[DWJ] Twilight and New Moon (Was: Discussing now: What?)

Rachel Ganz rachel at compromise.fsnet.co.uk
Fri Aug 17 07:34:29 EDT 2007

One of the things badly wrong with almost everything at the moment is
that we are actively encouraged by everything from lousy grammar in
academic texts, through stereo knobs that fall off because they are made
of crap plastic that breaks, right round to trains that fall off the
lines because of shoddy maintenance, to settle for second-best,
slipshod, oh-it'll-do *everything*, and I actually feel quite strongly
that a man's reach should exceed his grasp.

(She said, nailing her colours to the mast a bit.)

Not to the extent of breaking down and leaping off cliffs if we don't
become Olympic paddleboarders or whatever, obviously, but can't we at
least *aspire* to be a better us rather than supinely settling for 
being a worse one?
It depends how quickly you move the goalposts. If you're always comparing upwards, and never resting on your laurels, you wear yourself out because you never feel you have become any better.
When I was a child, my father was impatient at children's slow walking pace, so he would stride ahead, and then wait, irritable and furious until we had caught up, and then stride ahead again. So I was always tired and never actually getting to catch him up, whereas he had had a pleasant rest.
I suppose I want it acknowledged that some targets are achievable and some are not. For some things (possibly Olympic paddle-boarding) it helps if you have had a decent amount of sleep, and good meals, and encouragement. And if you haven't got those things and you don't have the innate physical stuff, then you won't make it, no matter how hard you try. Just because something is easy for one person, doesn't make it easy for you. We seem to have a one-size fits all mentality about success and failure. If you don't have the time and the budget to do a good job, you do the best you can in the circumstances. Sometimes it's not sloppiness on the part of the worker, sometimes is that no-one cares if they do the job well, or they haven't been given the tools or the education. As the adage goes, if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
I believe in aspiring high. Aim for the stars and you may hit the moon, and all of that. But I also believe that you have to do it in achievable steps. We get much of our knowledge about high achievers from the television,where you do not see the daily grind and the years of work that gets them there. It looks as if it comes for free. So people don't learn to struggle and to overcome failure.
And where do we see the ordinary person, doing the ordinary thing, not brilliantly, but doing their best? A very very very small percentage of people make it to Olympic level. How do we manage with everyone else?

Not blaming other people who also don't become Olympic paddleboarders, 
but keeping the possibility, the ideal, the shining goal of Olympic 
paddleboarding available for consideration, at least...

(What the blazes is a paddleboarder anyway? It did a pounds shillings 
and ounces at me.)

Brevity, clarity and cups of tea 

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