Saturday, November 19, 2011


I have to admit I have a bias towards excellence ... just like everyone else.

But when I try to parse what excellence is, my mind's facile tongue fails to find an excellent or satisfying definition. I love it when someone does something very well -- anything at all. I love it when what is completed stands without explanation or excuse ... just balls-out complete. I love it when a 100-yard-dash is finished and the looks of nothing-left wrack the runner's face. I love it when a box made in 1620 has a beautiful patina and the dovetails are all but seamless. I love it when the child's finger makes a single, curiosity-plagued-and-wonder-struck adventure through the green or blue or red finger paint. I love the complete sound of a temple gong trailing away into silence.

Excellence fills me with delight but I am goddamned if I can say what it is that floods me or defines it. No-excuses and no-explanations seems to be part of the mix. It does not rely on anyone else ... that too seems to be part of it: A generalized and socially-acceptable 'best' is not quite it ... sometimes a socially second-best really is excellent beyond compare. I can remember, for example, touring a museum exhibit of Buddha carvings, some of which were exquisitely refined, and yet the one that stopped me in my tracks and filled me up was a very rough carving (it seemed to be made of some very ordinary piece of fire wood). The chisel marks were obvious, the presentation was not exact or perfect, the symmetry was whopper-jawed, it was mediocre by comparison to its refined neighbors ... but there was love and excellence all over it.

Excellence. I am tongue-tied -- revolted by the notion that it could be defined and yet wanting to define it.

I guess I will have to be content with being a nitwit.

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