Naomi Osaka’s story stood out to me as a testament to her saying ‘enough,’ the recent story of fellow Olympian Simone Biles caught my attention for a different reason. The article I read was titled ‘Simone Biles and the Weight of Perfection.’
As a recovering perfectionist, reading her struggle hit home. Granted, I was (surprise!) never in the international spotlight. I can still sense the weight she felt. The weight that, for her, had become a burden too much to bear.
The thing is, folks like Simone who are in the international spotlight and who are beginning to speak up about the damage pursuing perfection can have will give others a voice to do the same. In my own battle against perfection’s alluring pull, I’ve gotten to appreciate and embrace the idea of the ordinary. It’s why I brought up the film ‘A Hidden Life’ way back when. What would the world look like I wonder if, rather than perfection, we acknowledged and celebrated the ordinary? The small acts of kindness and the quiet moments of beauty.
K’s aunt was here the other week. The two of them were having a conversation about parenting when I caught K saying, ‘We try to do our best.’ Her aunt’s reply summed this up nicely: ‘All you have to be is good enough.’
Turns out this past Sunday was World Listening Day. I caught wind of it scrolling through Instagram. Zion National Park posted about it along with a video that featured soundscapes from around the park. The question they posed got me thinking: What is the soundscape like where you live?
Birds. Lots of birds, especially in spring. Now, near the middle of summer, they’ve quieted down. There are still birds chirping every morning, just not nearly as many babies. It’s otherwise pretty still. I’m grateful for the stillness. I thought more about that question though, to other soundscapes I’ve experienced and what others may be experiencing. The wind through larch trees in the North Cascades. The sound of the murmuring Ohanapecosh River in the southeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park. Folks who live in the middle of a city like our twenty-one-year-old son, Julian.
Reading more about World Listening Day, I found myself kind of fascinated. Sure, I’m a sound geek. Still, it’s a cool concept to celebrate just listening. How it’s an art that requires attention and dedication. How it seems listening, keeping quiet, should be really easy. Why then does it take so much effort?
Maybe beyond the 18th of July every year I’ll remember its purpose: Practice less talking and more listening.
‘Can you do me a favor? K asked. ‘Mix up some Gatorade before you leave?’
‘Of course,’ I told her before heading out for an evening run the other night. Knowing I’d want some after I got back, I grabbed our big growler, shook it up with a bunch of Glacier Cherry powder, and left it on the kitchen island. I had the thought of writing a quick note to let her know what was in the growler, but also wanted to get out the door. The hardest part of any run is getting out the door. So I headed out.
When I got back, I saw K mixing up… Gatorade. Dangit, I should’ve just written her a quick note.
I’ve already talked about the handwriting thing or writing in the front of a book, so this may seem redundant. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s just another reminder for me that there’s power in a little note. Specifically, despite that evening the sun quickly slipping lower behind the foothills, things to do, and feeling a little guilty going for a run in the first place, I should’ve written my wife a quick note.
Next time I will.
Every once in a while, one of you from our little email family writes me about these randomnesses. It’s pretty awesome to get those messages. Not just because it’s fun to know my random thoughts have the potential of being helpful. It’s cool to hear how these things relate to one of you and learn something helpful myself. That said, this isn’t a nudge to do that, in case you were wondering.
I did think it would be fun from time to time though to share some of those thoughts with the rest of you. I’ll start with a response I got from last week’s thing about just going. My older brother Cosmo sent me this about his youngest son, Zaque:
Love this… think a bit about something beforehand, then jump in and do it. Adapt as needed. In fact, Zaque has a saying I like: “That sounds like a problem for Future Zaque.”
Next time I have something I need to do but have no idea how it’s all going to come together, I’m totally going to tell myself, ‘That sounds like a problem for future Thom.’ Thanks, Cosmo (and Zaque). Oh, still not a nudge, but keep your thoughts coming!
I’ve mentioned my buddy Ben before. How he isn’t just a divisional vice president.
He and I were recently on a call for an upcoming backpacking trip in the Winds (err, Wind River Range). Having hiked a hundred-some miles with him last summer through the Sierra, he was curious how I planned for a long-ish trip like that. After experiencing what we encountered in the Sierras, he was a little concerned about the terrain we may encounter in the Winds. Ben wanted to know what I did to prepare. I had to think about that for a bit. My answer, like my answer for Susan about coming up with a vision for her future, maybe wasn’t very helpful.
I told him I just go.
That needed some explaining, so I confessed my planning vs. showing up and making decisions in the moment was maybe 20/80. Meaning, I’d spend a little time looking at maps, reading route descriptions, and getting a general sense of what we’d encounter. The bulk of my ‘planning’ though is on-sight. See a pass, find the route of least resistance to the top, and from there plan the next line of least resistance down. For our trip last summer, rinse and repeat that approach something like fifteen times. Give or take.
Granted, our planning vs. just doing the thing ratio is going to differ dependent on how comfortable we are in the situation. The ratio isn’t what’s important. The just going is.