Do What You Can

This simple idea has the potential to overhaul your entire outlook on life. Do what you can. Rather than focusing on what might be better, steadily growing in depression whilst never achieving perfection, simply do what you can, and rest in that. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Or, good enough.

For example, my dad recently turned 75. I forgot to call him on the actual day. Then, I realized that the best gift we could offer him was our presence. We met him halfway between our homes, about three hours away in Upper Michigan, and made him a simple lunch in a gorgeous park.

We hiked to beautiful waterfalls, paddled kayaks atop large rolling waves in Lake Superior that initially frightened me, broke bread together, and rock hunted on the beach. Four hours after arriving, it was time to go…

Our no hug goodbye

We hadn’t seen him in about a year. The recent birthday was a huge milestone. Compared to what I see other people do for their loved ones on Facebook, which can depress me real fast (trips, fireworks, big and BIGGER), this clearly wasn’t enough. Comparisons aside, I know it wasn’t enough. We remained physically distanced the entire time, because he works in a grocery store. And so, we did what we could. It wasn’t the ideal 75th birthday celebration, but he loved it. So did I.

Similarly, I fantasize about taking my wife on a quiet vacation to celebrate our anniversary. Instead, we went out to breakfast…

I supply microgreens to this restaurant, so it was somewhat thrilling to see our radish shoots (perhaps the least important ingredient of the meal) dressing up the lobster benedict I ordered.

Coming on the heels of some hot and humid weather, we enjoyed this meal in our jackets (I also got to wear my Stormy Kromer hat!) outside beside Lake Superior. It was about 59 degrees that morning, the first cold day in August. We loved it. The premium coffee was incredible as it steamed into the atmosphere. Perhaps this experience wasn’t adequate to celebrate 21 years of marriage. If we compare it to what’s out there in social media, it certainly was not. But, it’s what we could do, and we are thankful.

Similarly, due to a variety of factors, I don’t partake in nearly enough adventures with the family for my taste. For the past month I’ve been working on painting the entire exterior of the house. Most beautiful days find me on a ladder, instead of out in the woods with my kids.

But, my son and I began biking down to a hard-to-access beach in the middle of the day for a quick dip. Very private. Beautiful and refreshing.

It’s not enough, but it’s what I can do on these days requiring herculean effort amidst dwindling daylight and suitable weather.

As an aside, these are my 21-year-old painter pants. They split in the rear end, and are hanging on by a thread with the help of some duct tape to get me through this project. They make me look like a schmuck, but I’ve loved them too much to part with them. They’ve bailed me out countless times, serving faithfully from college all the way into midlife when I’ve needed to make a quick buck painting houses. Similarly, I bet those Redwing boots are 50 years old. They’ll go into the trash too, but oh how I love them. I’m even thankful for the cow that gave it’s hide so many decades ago.

Here are some nuns for your enjoyment. I spied them beside the lake, giggling like children while throwing stones and enjoying creation, representing their faith and committment really well by my estimation.

Simple joys

Below is a snap of the last time our family enjoyed a restaurant together, exactly one year ago.

A trip out to eat is really expensive, and therefore really freaking rare for us. We don’t do it enough, but this is what we can do. Once in who knows how long. It was precious. The only person who tends to criticize me for providing these experiences so rarely is me. Better to simply enjoy them.

Later that day we went into Canada for a few hours of adventuring. Not enough, clearly, but it’s what we could do….

My daughter recently got her learner’s permit. I’m a difficult passenger in the best of circumstances, for reasons discussed in my book that she has nothing to do with.

And so, my wife took about the first ten shifts or so with her in the car. Then, just this week, I finally felt ready to go for a ride-along. It’s not perfect, or fair, but it’s what I could do. This worked out great, actually.

This past week I enjoyed an incredible trip into the Boundary Waters without the family. I failed to crack the code into getting them out there (school and other crap that was frustrating).

And so, we settled for what we could do, and I’m gradually dialing back my expectations.

We made a trip to Grand Marais yesterday to deliver several simple and inexpensive paintings like this to Big Lake Gallery, and made it into a pleasant family outing.

I had hoped to take the whole crew on two rather epic hikes, but they don’t all have the energy for my epic excursions. Plus, it was super foggy. No point climbing high atop a peak with crowds of people in such weather, so we ambled a mere mile into the woods to Agnes Lake and enjoyed a simple lunch together.

Like everything else we do, it wasn’t as epic or grand as I’d prefer. But, we were together. And happy. Happy together. A great combination.

6 thoughts on “Do What You Can

  1. Thanks for all you do Eddie. Sharing your thoughts and experiences makes my little escapes seem small. I too need to take stock in the little outings I get and not pay attention to others in comparison. As one very good friend tells me, we all do what we can all in our own ways.
    Seeing your children grow up has been fun for me and adds a smile each time I see them. Your whole family is beautiful, in appearance, and more. I see the joy on their faces in each photo. You are a fantastic father! What wonderful parents your son and daughter have. Thanks again for your work and for sharing it all.

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