Perfection has a double imperative. We can strive to reach a goal or to make improvements: a recipe that we’ve developed, our health, our job skills, “a more perfect Union”. Or, we can choose to reject perfection, to be open to producing our best without limiting our focus or creativity.
Olympic athletes, with their eyes on the gold medal, practice diligently, relentlessly, to do a flawless dive, gymnastics routine, ski run, or start out of the blocks. In their minds’ eyes, athletes visualize the perfect paradigm. With work and determination, the athletes’ skills become more polished, heading toward perfection; expert judges spot it immediately.
I like to see perfection in all things related to my medical care and financial services. Show me a perfect blood draw stick when it’s time for my lipid panel. Let my bank statements and my personal financial records be accurate to the penny.
Often, reality falls short of our ideals. Look at the folks who spend their lives looking for the perfect mate, only to find disappointment as no one measures up to their vision.
I’ve spent 40 years searching for the perfect Philly cheese steak sandwich. The one that tastes exactly like I remember from hurried lunch hours in Ann Arbor when I was a young traveling teacher. None has yet lived up to those that I ate and juggled while driving to my afternoon school. It’s a small disappointment but one consolation is that missing that sandwich has, no doubt, kept my cholesterol within a normal range and saved my arteries from clogging.
A few weeks ago at an Art for Healing writing session, which my friend and fellow writer Anke facilitated, I heard her say, “Deny perfection.” She was inviting us into the realm of enso poetry and continued, “Remain open to the journey.”
Anke began to explain this Japanese form, but I
was stuck on “deny perfection.” One glance at the faces in our circle of
writers and the sounds of us shifting in our seats confirmed that I wasn’t the
only apprehensive one. But with Anke’s guidance, we embraced the process. In
her wisdom, our leader knew that surrendering the idea of perfection would
invite images, words, thoughts, and feelings. She knew that pictures and poems
would come forward because we’d opened the space for them.
|"The Journey" (Taken at Yosemite)|
|"Openings" (Taken at Bryce Canyon)|
I think responding to both sides of perfection yields a balanced approach to life. Standards and ideals compel us to stretch and achieve. And, we need the freedom, happiness, and openness that letting go of perfection brings. That way, we each maintain a balance, creating a life that is perfect for us.
~ xoA ~