I like 111 West Wacker. It is not finished yet, but I like what I see. If you keep up with Chicago development you know 111 is being built from the shell of Waterview Tower. Waterview was to be remarkable. It was going to be a supertall standing 1047 feet (319 meters to you European folk) and was to house a prestigious hotel and high end condos. 111 is different; it will be 630 feet (192 meters) and consist of rental units. It is easy to be disappointed, but in reality it is a building Chicago needs and it is not so overbearing. Chicago does not need another supertall or more high end condos. When it comes to buildings, Chicago did not need something perfect, but only good enough.
In 2008 Lori Gottlieb released a rather controversial book entitled Marry Him, The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. I was not the target demographic for this so I can hardly speak on it, but it did pique my interest as it made the case for that which impacts men as much as women…..forgetting about Mr. Right and settling on marriage with Mr. Good Enough. The critics lambasted Gottlieb as anti-feminist as she criticized elements of single life and a reliance on one’s girlfriends rather than a man. I think her critics may have missed the point as my understanding is Gottlieb was making a case for settling on the everyday mundane world of marriage rather than thinking all women have to attain that great romance that brings her into the arms of a Prince Charming (also not a feminist virtue mind you.)
This is not a post about buildings and marriages per se. It is a post about being content. I get it. At twenty, you were going to have it all. They were going to build Waterview and you were going to live there with Mr. or Mrs. Right. It didn’t happen, but at thirty you kept saying it will. At forty reality sank in and you made alternate plans. At fifty you thought of the time wasted in pursuit of unreal dreams and at sixty you woke up, walked outside and saw that the sunrise was a miracle and it hit you. Where you are at is good enough.
That sunrise is good enough. In fact it is better than good enough. Too bad you did not bother to see it yesterday, but there will be another tomorrow. You can see it then and every day after that. The homeless do not need Waterview; a basic flat is good enough. The lonely do not need Mr. or Mrs. Right; a friend is good enough. In fact such things are not only good enough; they are miracles.
Let me qualify again I did not read the Gottlieb book as I have little interest in women’s self-help literature. (For the record I feel the same about men’s.) I did read a rather lengthy explanation of her arguments in The Atlantic, however, and I feel she is right and she is wrong. She is wrong in equating the single life as a waste. There is a happiness there she misses. But she is also right. When we set our expectations on the perfect, we run out of time and we lose.
Perfect expectations cannot be had by imperfect people and we are all imperfect. It is best we settle for good enough. The reason for this is more than just being satisfied with good enough however; it is because good enough is actually a remarkable thing. Somewhere out there is a young couple who see one another’s foibles and vulnerabilities. No matter, these things make them charming to each other. They may even rent in 111 West Wacker and grow a family there. My guess is if they do they will be more content than those who do nothing other than long for perfection.
It is a simple matter really. You are born and experience childhood. In your youth you have your dream. You picture how the dream should look and think on the joy you imagine the dream should produce. When you reach adulthood, something happens. You strive to attain the dream you imagined for yourself and too often leave the joy behind. There is an alternate way, however. Remember the joy and if you have to, forget your dream and dream anew. The dream you imagined when young when the world had a palace like Waterview and a Prince(ss) Charming will disappear replaced by that dream which says joy is found in the imperfect world with imperfect people, where good enough is more than good enough….it is no less than miraculous.