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.”