I ordered flowers for my wife last week. They almost made up for all the demands I have put on her for about — one day, but it was my utmost for the moment considering the limits of the pandemic. While living in extremis, giving what we can is still satisfying.

Almost is often the beautiful and satisfying result of utmost.

I used to workout at the gym. I can’t do that now so I use my stretchy bands at home. It’s an incomplete form of exercise, and yet it still successfully competes with what I did before.

Incomplete can still compete.

I look to God as the foremost beings in the universe, and I pray to him, but I know my prayers aren’t perfect. Too much asking. Not enough gratitude I’d say. I even think sometimes I could even be accused of acedia, spiritual sloth. I can’t seem to pray like I used to, but it’s almost as good.

My almost for His foremost.

I built four stonewalls last year in my gardens. I overdid it. I do that, sometimes, and sometimes the amount of work I do in a day is just right.

Sometimes is more honest than always.

The last couple of months I’ve spent mostly prone. Sick. Yuck. Laid low. Vulnerable. Blinkered. But I did orchestrate new financial arrangements for my family that brought about gains for my wife and I and both of my daughters. I had to work on accepting my limits and find successes where I could.

A partial victory is the satisfying reward given to acceptance.

Yesterday, I almost made the quintessential cup of espresso. I missed because the milk didn’t foam quite right. Great! Shoot!

Almost is a kind of first — and last.

My wife retired from her career as an archivist and a library loan specialist and then the pandemic hit. She had plans to volunteer at the zoo and exercise at the gym, but both of those are put on hold. Loss. Now she shops for groceries in a mask and supports me in the rough patch that I’ve been going through with my body. She makes huge, valiant and heroic efforts to normalize our lives.

Effort is often heroic and exists as a kind of loss steeped in kettle of valiant.

I’ve had careers as a teacher, a writer and a pastor. I was fairly satisfied with those, but careers are always in process and always present new challenges and new decisions to advance new initiatives. The goal never looked like one peak; it was more like making an constinuous approach march to many different high places.

Life is not summiting; it’s trailblazing.

Now I blog. And you my dear reader, you read. Thanks for that. It bonds us. Through this we come to some degree of connected wisdom, but wisdom is always something we practice on the next new challenge, and we often almost get it right. That’s the way it works. It’s kind of like playing a song on the piano and then trying it again, trying to interpret it and put the emotion and meaning it deserves into it. Practicing always invites us to another try.

Almost is a routine part of discipline.

A few weeks ago, before dawn, I took my telescope outside and looked at Jupiter and Saturn. I could see the moons of Jupiter orbiting the great planet, and the gorgeous ring of Saturn almost resolved, but I noted that the telescope was slightly out of alignment and so the mirrors weren’t quite up to the task. I gave it my total effort and so did the scope. I almost saw the fine detail in beautiful things, and as I look back on it I did see something beautiful in the try.

Almost is one of the most beautiful and coveted outcomes of total.

By now you must be getting the point. Almost — it is as common as a potato on a dinner plate. Almost, is good, like strawberries when they are almost but not quite perfectly sweet and not quite deliciously ripe. They are still good, especially if you top them with whipped cream.

Life is full of “almost,” the almost perfect relationship, the almost beautiful garden, the almost but not quite completed persona, and accepting that in one area of the fight can act as a halo effect, giving us contentment in other areas that don’t live up to perfectly perfect. To be satisfied with life — the limits it imposes, the yet unsung song it sings, the way things don’t always work out perfectly, we do well to come to a deep acceptance of an essential and ever-present ingredient of it. We do extremely well to value and love the je ne sais quoi that makes us mature, the hard to accept, the challenge to embrace — the amazing “almost.”


If you like short, pithy, aphoristic expressions of insight, you can find more of my thought-proverbs, aphorisms and epigrams at www.modernproverbs.net

  1. Beth Eldridge says:

    Often we bemoan the almost. Thank you for bringing out the special in almost!

  2. Tim McConnell says:

    I almost have a life! That is probably as good as it will get for me. I will endeavor to enjoy it with all I am!

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