Don’t let Perfect be the Enemy of Good Enough

Manual toothbrushes may be better for preppers than electrics.
Manual toothbrushes may be better for preppers than electrics.

I met a prepper couple who were worried that after the SHTF, they would not have any way to recharge their electric toothbrush.

Really? The water has stopped coming out of the faucet, the food in your refrigerator has spoiled, you have no heat or air conditioning, the grocery store is empty, there was a riot at Walmart, there is gunfire in the streets and it is coming closer, and your chief concern is your electric toothbrush?

Talk about having your priorities out of order. After the SHTF, any kind of toothbrush will do. Don’t let your pursuit of the perfect solution for a problem get in the way of a workable solution. There are times when baling twine and bubble gum might be good enough.

It’s all About Perspective

Here’s why I look down on this prepper:

First, because there is a good enough alternative to electric toothbrushes, and you can pick it up at the dollar store.

Second, there are far more important things to recharge before I got to my toothbrush, starting with flashlights and batteries for my weapons sights. Headlamps, lanterns, radios, walky- talkies, etc. If I had excess 120-volt power from a 12-volt solar system, I’d want to use it for something that would contribute to our long-term survival, like the chicken-egg incubator or the dehydrator. My electric toothbrush would be well down the list.

Third, and most importantly, it told me that these people didn’t have the right mindset to survive for long in a post-SHTF environment. If your top concern is an electric gadget that has only come into common usage in the past 60 years, then you are not focusing your time, attention, and prepping budget where it could do the most good. What good will a toothbrush do if you have had nothing to eat for a week because you didn’t focus on the basics?

The Moral of the Story

I tell you this not to make fun of the couple in question, but to remind you to look at your preps and ask yourself, “Is this really a priority?” This is especially important when you see a video or advertisement for a new gadget. For example, do you need to buy some new tinder that guarantees you can make a fire when you can make your own from laundry lint and wax? Isn’t your old water filter good enough? Do you really need to buy that bucket of food when you can make three buckets of your own for the same price?

I am not against having frivolous things in your stockpile or stocking a few luxury goods. I am against doing so at the expense of one of the big three: food, water and shelter. So before you buy that freeze-dried ice cream bar like the astronauts eat, make sure you have enough beans and rice in your prepper pantry. For example, I have a #10 can of M&M’s and another of Jolly Ranchers, but I didn’t put those aside until I had at least a hundred cans filled with black beans, red beans, lentils, split peas, quinoa, oatmeal, pancake mix, barley, rice, potato flakes, hash browns, macaroni, and other dried foods.

I feel the same way about ammunition. The 77 grain match ammo is the most accurate, hardest hitting 5.56 ammo you can buy, but the vast majority of mine is 55 grain. Why? Because it is cheaper, allowing me to buy more. I can probably shoot three or four Federal XM193 for the same cost as a single round of Black Hills 77 grain match ammo. I opted for volume of fire over long range accuracy.

That’s also why I don’t have a Creedmoor 6.8 or a Lapua .338 magnum, because I expect I can get good enough results from a .308, especially given the ranges at which I’m shooting.

Like an old-fashioned manual tooth brush, sometimes and older cartridge is good enough.

Don’t Pursue Perfection

I used to tell my ex-wife, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough.” She was incapable of understanding that position. She wanted everything to be perfect, not realizing the pursuit of perfection is costly, difficult, and sometimes impossible to achieve. In most cases, we can spend 20 percent of the energy or dollars and get results that are just fine, even if they are not quite perfect.

There are times we need to be perfect. For example, when making black powder, a mistake can be deadly. When picking mushrooms in the wild, you want to be darn sure you know what you are doing. But there are times when close enough is good enough. The trick is to know when good enough is sufficient. The ability to spot that line and know what side of it you need to be on for a particular task will make you a more successful prepper.

I’d rather have a decent retreat when the SHTF than still be saving money for the perfect retreat. Like an old friend would say when we were building something, “It’s good enough for the girls we go with.”