While helping me care for a beloved family member with a serious heart condition, a relatively enlightened cardiologist repeatedly shared a saying with me that stuck in my head — “Better is the enemy of good.” She said this in response to me asking her if there was more I could do with exercise, nutrition, or medication to improve our patient’s condition even further. Hmmm, “Better is the enemy of good” — WTF does that even mean anyway? At first something in me resisted these words — perceiving them as lacking in hope, positivity, and compassion — but then I grew to appreciate their practical wisdom pursuant to the stabilization and management of Malu’s dilated cardio myopathy (DCM).
Then I began noticing the scope of their relevance broadening. As a therapist, alternative healer, spiritual teacher, communicator, and homeowner I began seeing lots of ways this simple little saying applied to a diversity of situations. While working with couples and families, and being delighted when seeing them make a watershed realization and wanting to capitalize on it by immediately pushing them to the next level, “better is the enemy of good” began jumping out at me. When considering healing or teaching methods, and feeling the urge to do too much at once, there it was again. While excitedly talking with a friend or companion, and getting ready to repeat myself or go into greater detail to be clear — voila — out popped that little rascal yet another time. When fixing a plumbing issue, screwing shut a filter canister, or tightening a bolt; guess what shot from my head to my hands and put the kibosh on over tightening?
Then while meditating one morning, I realized that it could also be a lesson in acceptance — the acceptance of things as they are — without trying to change them into something they are not. So, for me, this simple saying intended to guide the cardiac care of a dear sweet being ended up having both divine and practical significance in my life.
I decided to write to Dr. Fine to let her know how valuable her saying had become to me, and thank her again for her exceptional care of Malu; and then share my realizations with you. When emailing Dr. Fine to thank her, I asked her if she would write something to contribute to this post. Here is what she said …
“Growing up, we often hear phrases like “practice makes perfect” and “always strive for the best”. That philosophy is helpful when you are learning to play the violin, but it can get you into trouble as a doctor. Medicine is the melding of the art and science; of making decisions about treatment medications, of when to go to surgery, and when its time to recognize that doing “more” is not necessarily going to do “better”. When a patient with a chronic illness is doing “pretty good” we might feel the urge to try to make them even better; to make them go back to “normal”. However, pushing for “better” can sometimes push them over the edge. Sometimes, accepting that “pretty good” is the best that you can hope for, is the best thing you can do for your patient. And of course, knowing that every day is a gift.
I had never considered the phrase “better is the enemy of good” in the wider context of life until you brought it up, but I can see that applies perfectly to relationships too. I will try to apply it to the rest of my life as well.” Deborah Fine-Ferreira, MS, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology)
So, since I think you get the point, I’ll refrain from the next six sections I was going to write to develop it further! 😜
How ‘bout this — you all write comments to further this post with examples from your life in support of Dr. Fine’s saying “Better is the enemy of good?” Mahalo (thank you) in advance for your thoughtful contributions! And don’t forget to drink in some of today’s scarlet, cobalt, and saffron elixir of the stars …
My dear soul friend, Caylin Rose Janet, contributed the art image, “Through and Beneath,” to this post. As an externally blind person, I have the honor of seeing things through the eyes of others. Here, in the words of the artist, is the painting I see when gazing at the image accompanying this post: “It is an abstract oil, with many clear points of straight brushtroke lines, that are woven into themselves so sometimes they meld like a basket, sometimes melding like dappled crater. There is a semi-circle in reddish-terra cotta bronze that is almost like a U on the bottom half. There are muted dark navy and cobalt blue strokes within and without all around the composition and U shape that also form an arc pointing into the inside of the U, cutting through white light in the background. I love that the composition is soft and blending of these juxtaposing colors-blue and red-orange, and forming into a dialogue of shape, and the brush strokes are clear energy patterns. There is a feeling of birth and cutting through/emerging into clarity while being held. This somehow felt representative of the meaning you were painting a picture of in your article!”
To learn more about Caylin’s art and spirituality, please visit her artist site.
Photo Credit: Caylin Rose Janet