Thursday, August 27, 2009

Second Guessing

Eventually even the authors of multi-tomed works have to write "the end." There comes a point where something needs to become finished rather than almost finished. This is easier to come to for some people than others. One reason is that we are always second guessing ourselves, always asking "What if?" Just as we're ready to say finis a new thought comes to mind and back we go.

I think that part of this is because we seek perfection, and seek it in everything. I remember well as a new kallah that I wanted everything I cooked for the two of us to be perfect. And I was soon disabused about cooking perfection as my "perfect" scrambled eggs were not my hubby's vision of perfect scrambled eggs. The lesson I learned then was that perfection is in the eye of the beholder, or the mouth of the eater as it were. I also learned another valuable lesson thanks to those eggs: it's not necessary to invest the same amount of time in trying to perfect everything that we do. Some things just are not as important in the grand scheme of life as others. My hubby wasn't really looking for perfect scrambled eggs; he was looking for breakfast.

I had to remind myself today that the only place to find perfection is in the dictionary. I've been working on a handbook for school and have been tweaking and tweaking it for weeks. I finally got to the cover. For two days I've been playing around with the placement of exclamation points. An accidental glance at the computer clock showed me that I had spent over an hour moving those exclamation points around today. Then it finally hit me. No one other than me was even going to notice those exclamation points, much less care where they were placed and how many there were. I hit save and then sent the whole thing off to be duplicated.

We do a lot of that second guessing in all areas of our lives. Sometimes we want to make sure that we have covered all eventualities and then never actually get around to doing the thing we wanted to do. People who redt shidduchim or have shidduchim redt to them spend a lot of time asking "What if?" They try to make the shidduch they are redting perfect. Those to whom the shidduch is redt do the same thing. It can take weeks for a shidduch to finally get off the ground, and then it blows up after one date. Instead of just taking this as one more happening in life that isn't perfect, everyone involved starts to beat themselves up with the "I should have checked more" litany.

Here's the thing. Checking more, knowing more information in a vacuum, probably would have had the same result. A date is a "live performance" and differs greatly from rehearsal and learning the script. Some people get really nervous when there is a live audience to perform in front of. They need a bit of time to settle down and give a great performance. Others? Well, just because they're great actors doesn't mean they can be great in every play they are offered.

Even though I'm not officially redting shidduchim I did mention a particular boy to a girl's family sometime back in June. I told them what I knew about the boy and also told them they would have to do their own checking for any information I didn't have. When they never got back to me I assumed that they weren't interested and left it at that. Imagine my surprise to get a call yesterday saying that they had "finally finished all the checking" and would consider the shidduch. Two months to check out a boy?!!! Before I gave the family the news that the young man was seeing someone seriously now and an engagement was imminent, I had to ask just what it was they were checking out about him. My eyes glazed over as they read off the list of people they had contacted about the boy. They double glazed over when they told me which questions had been causing them some concern, among them "Do you think this boy will make a good father?" and "Is he the same in private as he is in public?"

Cooks know that if you overbeat a cake batter you remove the oxygen needed and the cake won't rise. If the recipe says beat 50 strokes that's what they do--no second guessing and no "What ifs" and no saying "If 50 strokes is good I'll bet 100 strokes is better." There are an awful lot of places in life that following the cake recipe--just so many strokes and no more--would be better for us than agonizing over and over again about the "exclamation points." Of course a whole lot of shidduchim don't "rise"--they've been beaten to death before ever getting into the oven.


Rivka said...

Only two months? I am still in the middle of a shidduch I first mentioned last Pesach. Every time I think this couple will finally get to meet, so they can say 'yuck, next' one side or the other finds yet another thing they need an answer to. Honestly, I would have dumped both sides long ago but at this point I'm curious to see just how long they can stretch things out before someone either says yes or no.

Anonymous said...

Pithy and clear - good post!
With such (shidduch) micro-managing, its no wonder that matters proceed very slowly, at best. Perhaps an 'off the record' meeting of the boy and girl, discreetly arranged by mutual friends, offers the best chance of progress.
Shabbat shalom


G6 said...

Excellent post.