Have an adequate day

Above average – Pixabay: Public Domain pictures

“Have a great day.”

Americans have a knack for exaggeration, our president more than most –“huge, best, greatest” being his frequent and usually self-referential contributions — but the rest of us are also guilty of using superlatives in everyday conversation.

“Have a great day,” was the Starbucks barista’s send-off yesterday as she handed me a cup of tea.  “Awesome,” was the email comment I just received from a friend for whom I had done a tiny favor.

These comments got me thinking about how to describe most of my days. After a bit of a struggle, I settled on the word “adequate.” If something extra special happens, such as going out to dinner or a play, my days become good days, one degree above adequate. According to my on-line dictionary, one definition of “adequate” is “pretty good.” It’s sad to think that we view a pretty good experience as somehow below par.  It could be worse, though, if it were “average,” meaning “usual” or “ordinary.”

The problem as I see it:  We’ve reached the point in our culture — the Lake Wobegon” effect — “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” Being told we’re less than perfect whether’s it’s on the job, in school, after a music lesson, or in appearance is grounds for considering, if only briefly, the application of a sharp knife to one’s wrists or, minimally, a lawsuit. While I might mock the barista’s use of “great day,” I’m as guilty as anyone else in using exaggeration to label everyday events or conditions. I say “great” (“considerably above normal,” “magnificent,” extraordinary”) when someone refers to any positive situation.  Other Person: “I’m going to skip work and sleep in tomorrow. Let’s have lunch.” Me: “Great!”

I can testify personally to the horror of once being called “average.” After my first year on a new job, my supervisor called me in for my end-of-the-year review, which turned out to be an oral report consisting of one sentence:  “I can say with confidence that your work this year was average.”  It didn’t matter that she was teasing.  It felt like the lowest blow she could hit me with.

I have a possible solution to our obsession with greatness, a solution that would only be acceptable to people of a certain age.  Years ago, my husband and I spent several Julys in Guanajuato, Mexico living with a Mexican woman, Marilu, (now our Mexican sister). When asked how she was doing, she used an expression  –“Estoy contenta” — that I’m considering adopting.  “I’m satisfied. I’m content.” What if more of us found ourselves feeling content? Not perfect, not awesome, not great, but also not lacking for anything or requiring much more, simply satisfied. Maybe if we just said, “I’m satisfied,” often, we’d begin to believe that feeling content was a very good way to experience life.




About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
This entry was posted in humor, memories, personal reflections and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Have an adequate day

  1. Sharon says:

    You could also use the fairly common Swedish (and other Scandinavian countries, I believe) response: Can’t complain, it could be worse.

  2. Shirley Shimada says:

    Your writing is more than satisfactory, Ann! Thank you.

  3. Darlene says:

    Ann–you’ve hit the nail on the head again–well said. Have I thought about the content of your blog before your mentioning it? Why of course–most of us probably have. When someone asks, “How are you?”–generally I reply, “Fine.” In some cases I’m not fine, so some times I might reply, “Not so good” or “crappy”, but that is pretty rare. I guess salutations and departing words are an important aspect of societal manners, but you’re right, where will it go from here. So, Ann, have a “content” day! Estoy contenta tambien. Dar

  4. Vicky Murray says:

    P.S. Thank goodness we survived my teasing end of year review!!! It’s a reminder to me, however, of how mis-placed humor—unintentional or not—can linger and linger and linger and linger. Ugh!


    Don’t be afraid. . . Be focused. . . Be determined. . . Be hopeful. . . Be empowered. . . Empower yourselves with a good education. . . Lead by example with hope, never fear. –First Lady Michelle Obama, January 6, 2017

    “When they go low, you go high.”– First Lady Michelle Obama

  5. ann oxrieder says:

    I recovered quickly. But when I was writing this it did come back and I thought it would be good to admit to my own insecurities about being average. My English 101 prof said I’d never be more than a C student in English. I hadn’t thought of that one for years till just now.

  6. dkzody says:

    Satisfactory, indeed.

  7. Mary says:

    I am a new follower of your blog. And so my response is somewhat later to other folks who have responded. I thoroughly enjoy it.
    I had in fact forgotten that the words Trump uses are “superlatives”. I actually remembered back to high school when that type of word was used in English class. My response then was that those words were “a little over the top”, or an “exaggeration”, of circumstances. Kind of a nice feeling, going back there momentarily. However I am enjoying “being retired” as opposed to “being semi retired”. It has taken me a few years to get comfortable saying I am retired. I think I was attempting to be too precise with my words, once again. I had to get past my issue of thinking I could not be retired, if I still had some employment income to declare on my annual income tax. Go figure.

  8. stillalife says:

    Hi Mary, Welcome and thanks for your comment.

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