Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quoting Voltaire

Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

I've been thinking lately how Roger and I tend to make perfection the enemy of the good. That's what the above quote means. I had no idea the quote is from Voltaire, I've only seen it in reference to politics, like the health care bill fiasco. Oh sure the bill's not perfect, but it's good enough... so went the argument.

It's what we're doing now with our home search. Did we tell you we made an offer on a house on ten acres in the mountains? I'm pretty sure we must have, but it's been so long ago that it's hard to remember anymore. Let's see, we made an offer on a house that's a short sale. A short sale is when the house is listed for less than what the owner owes the bank. The mortgage is now what is euphemistically called "underwater." Okay, so we made an offer on a short sale almost two months ago and have not heard a single word from the bank. Not one. They haven't even breathed or nodded in our general direction. We've been getting weekly updates from our real estate agent who has been getting updates from the listing agent. The listing agent calls the bank negotiator who keeps putting off making any decision about whether to let the owner off the hook and sell the house to us at a whopping $150,000 loss. We as buyers are merely incidental to their considerations.
Stupidly, though, the bank has given us all this time to think about that house and let our misgivings mount. The house is located only about a mile up the road from us. We can head up there at any time of the day or night and look around. We've been doing that, especially now that it's vacant. We're finding imperfections. We've discovered that the winter sun doesn't clear the trees until a little after 10:00 in the morning. And, even though we've looked around and found places where we could easily put up solar collectors that would be in the direct sun as soon as it rises, the house will be in the shade until later. So the doubts begin to rumble.

Perfection demands the earliest morning sun, doesn't it?
I wander around the land wondering if there is enough sky for dreaming. This dark forest where we are living now has completely depressed me. We live under a forest canopy where few birds make their home, save the occasional brown creeper and migrating warblers for a day. Enough sky implies open space and meadow where all the creeping crawling critters go to find or become a meal. There is a wonderful two-acre garden spot. It's not range land vista, but it's still some open space.

Perfection demands big sky and prairie land for dreaming, doesn't it?
There is a leaky outside faucet; the fences need mending; the summer ozone comes and sits like invisible heated exhaust spewed from all the cars that trudge between here and San Fransicso. That's over 150 miles away! Yes, it's true for the entire county, but we take it rather personally.

What if we have to live with the pangs of disappointment? What if we make a mistake? Do you love everything about where you live?

Then we remember the good things: two acres of beautiful garden spot where organic biodynamic gardening has been done; feathers on the ground from unknown birds; a daily gathering of beautiful moths; splendid beetles on the screen door; deer poop in the garden (see fence mending). These are good things all, full of promise and life.

Ah, Voltaire.* We wait with the good and struggle with our desires for the best. We don't know whether to say, damn you, Bank of America, or thank you. But if that bank gives any more time to think about it, it'll be f*ck you for sure.

*Whenever I write "ah, someone" I am reminded of Allen Ginsberg's Howl. "Ah Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe. And now you really are in the total animal soup of time."

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