Sunday, May 28, 2006

Good enough isn't bad

click photo to enlarge
When I was younger one of my faults was to aim for perfect- ion in every- thing I did. The perfect photo- graph, the perfect drawing, the perfect piece of work in my job, etc. Many will say that isn't a fault, it's a good quality, and the best art, architecture, writing, work - the best anything - is produced by people who are driven in this way. I'm not so sure. I've come to believe, and to know, that many "great" works were not achieved by people striving for perfection. Often their creators worked hard, achieved something that was "good enough", and then moved on. It was others who decided that their work was exceptional. I am now something of a devotee of the "good enough" cult, producing work that is no worse than formerly, and, I'm happier for it.

A few years ago I fixed a wooden nestbox to the side of my house, and another one to a tree near the stream at the bottom of my garden. One windy winter day the tree-mounted box blew down and floated away never to be seen again. However, during its very first spring a pair of blue tits made their home in the box on the house. The birds provided me with the pleasure of watching their comings and goings, and the day the youngsters, one by one, left the nest, was a joy to experience. It was good to think that I had played a small part in their success.

However, for the next few years the box wasn't used, although an altogether superior box put up by my neighbour was! Then, last year some great tits investigated my nestbox. They could barely squeeze through the small hole, and they tried to enlarge it. The box is made of plywood so they eventually gave up and went elsewhere. A few weeks ago they looked again, pecking at the hole once more. This time I decided to help them out by taking the box down and making the hole bigger. When I put it back up I can't have tightened the screw enough because the box shifted from vertical in the wind. I noticed it was hanging wrongly, but didn't get round to doing anything about it. However, despite this, the leaning box proved "good enough" for the great tits because they are now busy raising their family, happy in their slightly askew new home.

My photograph shows one of the pair about to feed the nestlings with a succulent caterpillar. I used a zoom at 300mm (35 mm equivalent), and cropped the shot. The photograph was taken hand-held at 1/800 second at f6.3, ISO 200. The busyness of the birds meant I had to take sixteen shots before I got one I was happy with, and, as a record of this little drama, I think it's "good enough"! You may disagree!!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen