This I Believe

Mitch - Eugene, Oregon
Entered on October 20, 2007

I believe in mediocrity. OK, not in all endeavors, but in most activities that require practice, production and evaluation. Here are a few personal examples: I recently built a small cabin in the woods. I am neither a contractor nor an accomplished builder. I had a friend who is a contractor give me some written guidance, but the physical work was done by myself and a few non builder friends. After 2 years of weekend and vacation work, my family now enjoys a beautiful environment for listening to the quiet and enjoying the mountains. When my contractor friends come to visit, I can see how they cringe at the sight of the details. They walk around and notice the poorly fitting molding, somewhat sloppy sheetrock texture and unfinished details. It causes them some anxiety. But it is functional and beautiful to those without prying and skillful eyes. I didn’t have to spend so many hours struggling to perfect the details, and the finished product brings my family great joy.

Another example: I play ice hockey in the “B” league. Played all my life, and have never been very good. In order to be good, I would have had to put many more hours into practicing and perfecting skills. The competition would have been uncomfortable. But I am able to enjoy my group of aging lousy hockey players, staying reasonably fit without the stress of the “A” league intensity. No one comes to watch our games, which might be an additional benefit!

Mediocrity allows for the final products or activities to be enjoyed, without the intense scrutiny and disappointment that comes with high expectations. Is fine quality really that important? Can imperfection be enjoyed and embraced without discomfort?

Mediocrity has no place in love where quality needs more focus. Accepting mediocrity here can decrease the quality of our lives in much more meaningful ways.

But I believe there are times to allow mediocrity to be greeted as a welcome, comfortable friend, who doesn’t judge or look down on us, and is ready for joyful and honest interaction today.