After finally finishing a painting I’d been working on for weeks, I proudly displayed my handy-work to my wife. “Well,” I said, “Wife, what do you think?”
Wife looked over said painting for all of two seconds before she decided, unequivocally, she was unimpressed. “Eh,” she said.
I was shocked. How could she not like it? My hard work and ingenuity created it. It is me. I am it. We are one. If she didn’t like it, then she didn’t like me. And if she didn’t like me, who would? She’s supposed to be my biggest fan and all. Right?
“Maybe I don’t have to like it.” Said Wife, rationally, like it didn’t matter in the slightest. Then she went back to doing whatever it is she does and I painted over my painting with thick black paint.
Of course I disagreed with her at the time, as my instincts usually tell me to, but after six weeks of deliberating, I’ve decided that actually, against all odds, I’m wrong, and she’s right: she doesn’t have to like the painting.
Because, as shocking as this is to swallow, not everything I try is going to be great. It can’t be. There’s only so much greatness in the world, and if everything is great, then nothing can really be all that great. This is a very liberating lesson to learn, because if everything doesn’t have to be great, then I’m much more free to try everything.
No, she doesn’t have to love every little thing I do. She doesn’t have to love every meal I attempt to cook. She doesn’t have to love my Supercuts’ haircut. She doesn’t have to love the way I rearranged the furniture. And she doesn’t have to love every picture I paint. Just the big picture.