90% of everything is crap, famously said Theodore Sturgeon.
He came to this conclusion in the 1950 while examining the science fiction that he loved was often being attacked over the worst examples of the craft. His revelation was that there was always a huge mass of mediocre crap in any field, that the exemplary was always rare, was always just that magical 10%.
“I will guarantee you,” I said to ShamanGal, “that 99% of people on any given dating site will NOT be your soulmate.” As the old adage goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.
What does this mean? It means that life is much more about getting through the 90% of dross, the 90%% of chaff, the 90% of filler than it is about finding the 10% of jewels. It means that when you do find excellence, you have to value it, hold it close, get as much as you can, because excellence is a rare and precious thing.
More than that, it means that if you love something, really love something, that it will be shown not because you love that thing while it is excellent — it is always easy to love excellence — but rather that you love it while it is crap. It means you have to love the mucky, unformed, raw and gunky version, the bits where the jewels are tiny and fine, the parts where even in an unpolished state, the potential excites you and captures your attention and efforts.
You only really love something or someone when you love them not only when they are good, but also when they are crap, doing the routine and struggling towards greatness. This is, of course, something that parents know well, spending years dealing with an infant’s crap just to be rewarded with a smile and a promise of much better things to come.
There is no mastery without first doing the dirty work, the scut work, the crap that is required to extract good from bad, to tease out excellence from routine. Many people imagine themselves being authors, for example, being interviewed on television, but few people imagine themselves being writers, struggling alone with a blank page for months on end.
If you don’t love something or someone enough to go through the trying and boring bits with them, then you don’t really love at all.
What do you love enough to embrace even the 90% of it that is crap? What do you love enough to tenderly coax more great and wonderful into the world?