Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I’m Going To Be OK With That

We’ve all heard, and used, that old saying, “Nothing’s perfect.”

So, why do I have such a hard time convincing myself not to run my life as if there is such a thing?

What do we even mean by “perfect”? What, for example, is the definition of a perfect movie or book or house or meal? Aren’t those answers all subjective?

I looked up “perfection” on Wikipedia, where there was an explanation of how people have contemplated perfection through the centuries. To me, it sounds like Plato, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke et al had way too time on their hands. A great deal of thought, for example, went into answering the questions, “What is the perfect number?” and “What is the perfect shape?”

The Wikipedia entry also pointed out that the root of the word “perfect” comes from the Latin “perfectio,” meaning “complete.”

Which reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: “Done is better than perfect.”

In other places, I’ve read the advice not to confuse “excellence” with “perfection.”

Ah, now I feel like I am getting somewhere.

“Perfect” is this weirdly fraught term, describing something that doesn’t exist, that many people, including me, use to drive themselves crazy. Or as sofilee on Urban Dictionary put it, “perfect” is “fiercely overrated and non-existent.”

Deciding that your goal is to be or to create something “perfect” strikes me as the same as labeling yourself or someone else “stupid” or “lazy,” words I hate.  Like “stupid” and “lazy,” it’s just this ill-defined, judgy word; it doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of what you are doing and how to make it better -- or if you even need to.

It’s just a way to beat yourself up.

I’m going to listen to Salvador Dali, who said, “Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.”

1 comment:

  1. I'm with Dali. Perfection can be my worst enemy. My daughter asked me to do a copy of a Van Gogh painting for her birthday. It turned out pretty good, but I told her there were at least two times during the process when I wanted to chuck it in the trash and forget about it. I've learned over the years that, for me anyway, this is normal and I just need to keep plowing ahead despite my misgivings about the painting's worth.

    There was a wonderful water color artist I met once who was in her late 70's or early 80's. She was doing a demonstration of her technique at our county fair. People were oohing and aahing over her work. She just laughed and said "Thanks, but you haven't seen the duds hidden under the bed." Nobody's perfect. :)