Two Lessons for 2021
### The 77% Weekly.
### Rabbi Brian. ROTB.org
### 40/52 weeks a year in your in-box
1. Good enough is good enough
The second section of this article, the next part, has been upcycled from a 2019 issue.
By upcycling, I mean I’m reusing, elevating some of my previous work.
“Asking for help”—which you’ll be reading in a moment—is about asking for help.
And, these days, I think a lot of us need to relearn about asking for help.
However, in this first section, I aim at a different point: *Good enough is good enough. Take it easy. It’s (probably) OK.*
You see, I, like many folk, push myself harder than necessary.
I even have an example in the present moment!
Immediately after considering the reuse of the following story about Dave, I felt like it was cheating. I heard an internal, authoritative voice in my head: “You can’t just use that article as is. At the very least, you need to do a really thorough rewrite of the narrative.”
As I don’t want to be accused of being lazy or taking shortcuts, I started in on changing the story from past tense to present tense, making the opening sentences tighter, and establishing that the story is pre-Covid.
About what I would estimate was a third through the rewrites, I heard a second voice, a different one, in my head.
It’s the nice voice that seems to love me as I am.
I heard, “Hey, we can just leave it as it was. It’s good enough. I don’t think your reader, <insert name here>, is going to fault you.”
I hear this compassionate voice better as I age.
I considered undoing my corrections, and leaving the article as it was, but I liked some of what I had done. So, I compromised with myself and came up with the decision to write this meta and second, but equally important, lesson—*Good enough is good enough. Take it easy. It’s (probably) OK.*
2. Asking for help
I love Dave.
In his eyes and by his actions, you can tell he is really just a kid. He’s quite childlike.
There is a difference between being childish–throwing a tantrum–and being childlike–filled with zeal and joy. Dave is the second.
It’s summer. He is visiting with his bride and daughter, and we go to one of Portland’s nickel arcades–’cause this is one of Dave’s favorite things to do.
Upon entry to the Belmont Electric Castle’s Wunderland, Dave hands two one-hundred dollar bills to the somewhat astonished cashier and says, “I’d like you to put $100 on a card for me and split the other $100 on cards for the kids.”
My kids love Uncle Dave.
There’s one other thing you need to know about Dave. Dave has a little bit of OCD. (He jokes it is CDO—because he likes his letters alphabetized.) He has learned to navigate his brain. You probably wouldn’t notice it when you first meet him, but once you get to know him, you see how hard he works to keep his neuroses at bay.
One reason Dave likes arcades is that he can play the machines that pay out when the user gets the timing just right. Not skee ball, which also requires dexterity, but the type where you have to hit a button with ever-so-exact timing. He goes ga-ga for those. They hit his OCD just right. The satisfaction of timing his action and collecting maximum prize value over and over again fires the pleasure sensation in his brain.
After half an hour in the arcade, I get bored and sit.
Dave and the kids aren’t going to run out of game tokens for a long while. At 5¢ a play, that’s a lot of game time.
I walk about the erstwhile nickelodeon imagining backstories of the customers. And how Portland came to have multiple nickel arcades.
I find Dave at the circular asteroid-type game that shoots a rocket towards a hole in the middle. Dave is swiping, swiping, swiping. The center jackpot remains illuminated as Dave has figured out the timing.
He quickly looks up and notices me.
His tone is tentative.
“Yeah,” I respond.
“Can I ask you a favor?”
“Yeah, Dave. What do you need?”
“Can you tell me to get off of this game, please?”
“Can you do me a favor?”
“Yeah. What is it?”
“Can you get off of that game?”
“Thank you so much.”
Just like that, he stops and walks away from the game.
Asking for help–contrary to how it might feel–is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help, in fact, is the opposite of weakness. Asking for help is a vulnerable thing to do; it is an admission that we are not enough.
And we all need a little help from time to time.
Two Lessons for 2021
2. We all need help
Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer resides in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder and head of Religion-Outside-The-Box rotb.org, an internet-based, global group of 3.3K+ digital-age seekers. ROTB produces excellent spiritual content.