Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

An aphorism that came to my mind today was, “Don’t sacrifice the good for the perfect.” I looked it up, and found that it’s a riff on a quote oft attributed to Voltaire (I haven’t even read Candide–bucket list perhaps). “The best is the enemy of the good,” is actually an Italian proverb. I honor the proverb, but prefer the active attitude of “Don’t sacrifice…”

As I looked over the photos I took with a mind to sharing them, I found myself worrying, for just a moment, that they were too cliché. They aren’t art photography. They’re snapshots of a beautiful day, taken with a common iPhone camera. It was a random thought, but if you–like me–often second guess yourself, you might recognize the hesitation and self-criticism. The stifling of your own voice for completely made-up reasons.

Speak freely.


Trees appearing to wander by the lakeside, not sure what to do with themselves.

Turtle performance art? They’ve arranged themselves into a sculpture of heroic proportion.

I have a love hate relationship with the geese at Campus Lake. They’re lovely on the water, and when they fly, sublime. But goose poop on the paths–yuck.

The Individualist. I hear you, honey.

I’m not sure what this mallard hen was up to, but she was doing the hell out of it for quite a while. The male watched the whole time. Hoping for a snack, maybe?

A campus tulip tree in bloom. Some things are far too beautiful to last long. If they looked like this all the time we might take them for granted.

The path out. The contrast between the bare trunks and the blue sky and the sudden blooms is a distinct moment in time. A precious balancing point between the old and the new.

I found a sweet, small tulip tree in front of the post office in town. Thanks, USPS!


And this odd confection in the parking lot by our little Barnes and Noble store. Definitely two or more plants, but clinging together for dear life in their island in the asphalt. Parking lot landscaping can be so curious, don’t you think?

Precious detail.

Home again to my own garden. The Lenten Roses, like Lent, are fading. How appropriate.


7 thoughts on “Perfect is the Enemy of the Good”

  1. Trying to do things perfectly paralyzes me. I have to keep reminding myself that good enough sometimes IS good enough.

    Your photos are lovely. The turtle photo made me gasp, nature’s sculpture.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      Priscilla, I think good enough is nearly always just plain good. Good is good! That paralyzing, perfect ideal can’t even exist in the real world. Like you, I have to remind myself, but it’s easy to forget. “Go for the Good” isn’t exactly “Go for the Gold,” but it works?! 😉

      Goodness. Those TURTLES. I wish I’d had a telephoto lens. They were incredible.

  2. Leta Sontag says:

    I’ve run into that same roadblock again and again when painting. Expecting more from myself than I do others sabotages my efforts and leads to some weird attempt to separate myself from my work. Does that make sense? Will copy the quote for my studio. Thank you, Laura!

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      “Expecting more from myself than I do others sabotages my efforts…” That’s a great pull-quote, Leta. An excellent reminder. xx

  3. linda2342 says:

    Love the pictures thanks for posting. Especially the tulip tree

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      So glad you visited, Linda! Thank you.

  4. Steven Berardi says:

    Though the proverb often becomes ‘perfection’ it’s usually translated from Italian as ‘the best’ (which need not be perfect, just superior, relative to other things). I’m no scholar but in looking at popular Italian things (cars, fashion, food, wine, motorcycles, etc), they often get classified as ‘the best’ by more than just a few people. Maybe the proverb means that the best cannot be friends with the good [enough] as the inability to accept complacency will always cause the best to strive for something more? Think of how many people hate on Tom Brady for being a winning QB. There’s something not present in the good that is found in the best. This will always cause animosity in some but, if you are great, it should spark a healthy competition that can elevate all.

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