Doesn't Have to Be Perfect

Walking down our little town’s bumpy brick streets to drop off a letter, I had one of those moments when you look around and see just how much still needs to be done.  Here’s a poorly patched pothole, there’s a run-down building needing a labor of love, and beside it a vacant lot choked with weeds.  

     My thoughts were interrupted by a family of Midwestern tourists asking for a breakfast recommendation, so I told them about the spicy maple bacon at Grits and Some. They were driving home from Orlando and seemed genuinely excited that Laurel was on the way. 

     “Well, this sure isn’t as fancy as Disney, though, is it?” I chuckled, thinking of the pressure washed streets, meticulous landscaping, and fairy-tale architecture they’d just left. “No, it’s a lot smaller than we thought, but it’s really cute.  And the people are so nice, we’ll stop here again,” the Mother said.  

     Her husband offered me his phone so he could be in the family picture in front of Pearl’s.  Took a couple tries to get everyone’s eyes open and smiling at the same time, but the kids finally cooperated and I went about my day. 

     As I thought about all the sights I’ve seen around the globe, it still makes me smile when people are delighted with Mississippi.  There certainly are thousands of places with fancier restaurants, better vistas, live entertainment, and high end shopping.   But that doesn’t diminish the appeal of a small town one bit.  As I heard an old man say, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”  

     I’m all about improvement and stewardship and constantly strive to make the land I’ve been blessed with better each day.   But that push for progress shouldn’t keep me from being thankful for what it is right now.   

     Same goes for people.  None of us have reached our full potential yet.  I’ve got plenty of potholes, peeling paint, and unfinished projects, and you probably do, too.  Our families aren’t exactly the way we wanted them to be, our careers didn’t quite pan out as we expected, and even our churches have problems because they’re made up of us.  

     But isn’t it reassuring to finally realize that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful?      


Col. Craig Ziemba, USAF, ret. 
Craig has served eight combat deployments 
and is a pilot who lives in Laurel.
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his book 37 Near Death Experiences now available