Sunflowers by the Side of the Road

Wayne and I were on the way to Sonora Pass for a hike a few weekends ago. As I was driving the sun was rising, and I couldn’t help but notice that the dry California landscape was bathed in beautiful, soft light that gave everything a surreal quality and warmth that foretold environmental serenity rather than fully disclose the truth of the triple digits yet to come. The roadside sunflowers particularly caught my eye: I love the wildflowers of spring, but these autumn beauties are truly my favorite.

Some time after the sunflowers were a distant sight in my rear view mirror, I lamented that I hadn’t stopped for a photo. Why hadn’t I? I can become so focused on time and tasks that it may have seemed pressingly urgent to get to the trailhead to accomplish the chore of the day (ironically, a walk in nature), but that didn’t seem to offer a full explanation of why I had passed up the opportunity to capture gorgeous surroundings along the way. Logically I knew a half-hour delay in our start time would not make or break the hike.

“You’ve started letting the perfect become the enemy of the good,” Wayne said.

His assessment (or, more accurately, Voltaire’s) is correct. With my eyes I soak up so much beauty each and every day, but especially when I am outside in nature (yes, even that nature that pushes back against the manmade freeway). I feel inadequate to capture it, to describe it, to recreate it. So I don’t.

But my assessment is correct, too. I become too task-oriented to slow down and appreciate blessings unrelated to the task, and I lack the focus to practice the craft of storytelling through words and pictures so that I may improve—never to perfect, but maybe to adequate.

Because I’ve made perfect the enemy of the good, I’ve created an unattainable goal and made practice a waste of time.

So here’s to metacognition and a desire to shift gears to embrace practice and the good. (And to capturing those sunflowers on the way home.)