After reading the interesting post on good enough parenting by Ms Melancholy I began to think about what it also means to be (or to feel one is) a good enough person. This is a particularly relevant question for the long-term sick or disabled, those who for one reason or another can’t assess this in terms of measurable achievement in the world. I suppose that anyone who does assess themselves in those terms is already not feeling good enough, and it should go without saying that every person, by virtue of being just that – a human being – has intrinsic worth. But everyone has their own unique identity and it’s good to consider what it is that makes us who we are, to name those things that you would never put on a CV.
At the moment, having a gap year, I have no paid work, no small children to look after, no particular status in the world and I don’t even sing in the local choral society any more. I remember Ms Pants (miss her, where’s she got to?) saying triumphantly in one of her posts that she was at that point in her life virtually untrackable - unmeasurable by Government standards, and this made me smile. She was talking about consumerism versus real quality of life, the former being one way that we can buy into ersatz rather than authentic identity.
My life is closer to the rhythm of my cat than to most people I know, unless they are very young or very old. I wake, do the things that are necessary to keep me nourished, clean and rested, keep in touch with friends and I write. The writing is one of the things that name me, and I’m not talking about fame. I have had only bits and pieces published and hope for the strength to do much more, but whether or not that happens it is, as they say, what I am for – this, and the teaching of it.
Feeling one is a good enough person, though, comes out of a sense of identity and this is hard to pin down, like a fragrance with its green or floral overtones, its musky bass notes, that has not yet been given a brand name. I never suffered, as so many other women I knew seemed to after becoming a mother, from loss of identity. If anything, that became stronger, though it wasn’t to do with being a mother, close as I felt to my children. It was just a sense of being there, walking the pavements with my two flat feet, having arrived and taken possession of myself. This, in spite of the fact that I was ill and becoming iller than I thought possible. Everything I wished for was part of the essence. Sometimes all I could do was sing and invent things, tell stories about the people that passed by the living room window, make stuffed animals talk and sweets come out of their mouths. It came from who I was, the person who liked to make things up - from that, and perhaps the unwillingness to accept things just as they are. I have never believed in just this physical, tangible layer of life. I am a believer in magical dimensions that live beneath the surface, behind the visible world, and that is also part of the essence. It has got me through days when all I can do is lie and look at strips of sky through wooden slats. Escape strategy perhaps, but also a sense of being connected to things; power and presence in a clear, starry night.
I’m not unusual in these things, and that’s not the point. And life may be easy or hard, humdrum or glamorous, and that’s not the point. The point is that those things that name a person, the substance of who they are, are most likely also to be the things that make them good enough.