If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The squirrel is alert, frozen and waiting. He (or she) is single minded and focused on the moment. Is this Zen? Maybe, but I came across this photo while browsing my collection and decided to “sneak” it in because I like it.
So what is the Zen of good enough and what does it have to do with creativity? Creativity is internal. The latest and greatest computer loaded with an all the bells and whistles word processor might make your writing easier (or it might get in your way instead). Tools are ancillary to the creative process. The most important tool is your vision. The technical tools you have are good enough as long as they support your vision.
A $3,000 digital camera (body only) might be capable of producing amazing photographs but only when filtered through the eye of the photographer. The photographer’s eye (and vision) are the real producers of great pictures, not the camera.
A writer’s creativity, not the tools they use, produces great writing.
Good enough can mean using the right tools at the right time. I started this article with the squirrel photo in mind. Instead of firing up my word processor, I sat here with a pad and my fountain pen scribbling ideas as they occurred to me. When the Aha moment hit me, I opened PyRoom, the minimalist text editor, and started writing. PyRoom is not only good enough, it’s better because it allows me to write without distractions.
Good enough can mean using the tools you have instead of stuff you covet but don’t have for one reason or another. I do all of my film scanning on my old windows computer because my scanner and photo editing tools are windows only. The film scanner manufacturer went out of the photography business a few years ago and the scanner is obsolete, but it’s good enough.
Believe it or not, I use an old CRT monitor I bought in 1995 for my photo editing after I scan. The screen is a bit small, but it still works. And the whole setup is good enough because it gives me all that matters — quality scans and good digital images from my film.
The Zen of good enough puts creativity first. Good enough doesn’t mean second best, it means using the best tool for the job. Many times that means using the simple solution, one that’s good enough. If you wait for the perfect tool, you end up frozen and waiting like the squirrel in the photo. Why wait when what you have is probably good enough.
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