Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Pitfalls of Perfectionism

Boz in the Bluebell Wood

It's been a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Sussex. Fortunately, I took the time to take our three charges here — two Jack Russell terriers and an incredibly mellow border collie named Boz — for two walks today, one this morning and another from which we've just returned.

While finishing the above sentence, I looked up from where I'm writing, outside, to see Boz looking peacefully into my eyes. As a younger border collie he was undoubtedly less mellow. But from my vantage point as a house- and pet-sitter, Boz seems to have acquired wisdom over the course of his 12 years, along with the arthritis that makes him somewhat less active than when in his prime.

He'll still endlessly chase his ball or a stick, but our hosts here tell us he suffers with stiffness the following day if he goes on too long. And he quite willingly relinquishes his ball or stick when the youngest of our charges, a three-year-old Jack Russell named Boo, tries to steal it from him. It's not that Boz is submissive towards Boo; rather, you sense he's quite happy to fetch whatever's thrown for him, to play tug of war for a bit, but then to let Boo have her way.

It seems a gentle act of resignation.

And this act of resignation is what I've had an opportunity to practice this afternoon, just before going for that second walk with the dogs. I needed a break, and know there's no better way for me to rest and to regain my inspiration than to go for a good long walk in the woods and fields, and to bring the dogs with me.

What was it that I was resigning from? you might ask.


Or more specifically, trying to push the 80-percent solution asymptotically closer to perfection. More specifically yet, trying to get our respective MailChimp templates (which we recently began using to distribute posts from our various blogs) to be fully mobile responsive. In other words, so that folk can easily read our posts from their laptops, tablets or smart phones.

No effort is ever a waste; I know that. But, that having been said, Mufidah and I have spent days trying to get our templates set up just the way we want them. I thought I'd finally cracked the nut late last week when we then realized that the text isn't wrapping properly on smaller devices like our iPhones.

So instead of seizing the inspiration to write at various points over the past few days, I've felt obliged, instead, to try to get the MailChimp templates to work as they should. We've emailed the MailChimp folk, but as yet they've not gotten back with us.

Ultimately, this is something we need to nail. And I apologize to all of the readers of our various blogs should you be finding it difficult to read our posts on your mobile devices. For now, you can click on the post title in our mailings to read posts via the web, as all of our websites are, contrary to the MailChimp templates, fully responsive for various devices.

But after an incredibly frustrating time this afternoon — a continuation of several days of frustration over this technical issue — I finally came to my senses and resigned myself to the fact that what we have is good enough for now. It's not the perfect outcome, but it's good enough.

And so I took a few minutes to wrap things up tidily, the underlying problem still unresolved, put on my hiking boots and called the dogs to join me for a walk into the late afternoon sunshine. I had a good feeling that I'd be inspired once again to write upon our return home. And so I was.

That said, I'm quite certain that faced with a similar problem dear ol' Boz, now lying in his bed beside me, would have come to his senses far more quickly than I.

The wisdom that comes of a dog's age.

Photo: Sean M. Madden Sean M. Madden is a writer, photographer and slow-traveling digital nomad. He's also Co-Founder & CEO of, working with businesses and individuals, worldwide, to build tribes of loyal customers via strategic websites and visual storytelling. Interested? Click here.

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