Updated: Oct 15
I’m so happy to be taking a few minutes out from Martine’s urban fantasy world, to be writing this blog for you about something I consider to be a very important lesson in life: the good and the bad about striving for perfection.
Perfection has been described as a fool’s errand, by many and as the only thing worth striving for, by others. The truth, as I see it, is somewhere in between and I believe a lot can be learned from considering how we think about perfection and what we do about it.
For the next few minutes, if you’ll stick with me, we will explore how our relationship with the concept of perception can affect our lives, our future and our happiness.
How do we view perfection?
By now, if you have read my previous posts, you probably realise that I love a good quote. There are three in particular that help to summarise the way I think about perfection, and how, consequently, that view goes on to affect the way I lead my life. You will see that each of the quotes has a link to the next.
This quote, from Nia Peebles: ‘Life is a moving, breathing thing. We have to be willing to constantly evolve. Perfection is constant transformation,’ helps us to think about the journey rather than the destination. Though I would not necessarily agree that perfection is where we currently stand as we are ‘transforming’, I like the idea of it being a process.
Jerry Moran agrees that: ‘Perfection has to do with the end product,’ and goes on to state ‘but excellence has to do with the process.’ To me this quote is saying that we should strive to be the very best we can be, on the day, every day. This is not the same as being perfect, which, as we have already said, can be regarded as a fool’s errand.
Lastly, I love this quote from Salvador Dali: ‘Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it’ which kind of takes the pressure off, doesn’t it?
So, if not perfection, then what?
If we know then that perfection is something that we will never achieve, what is its purpose?
I see it as being something only attainable by a higher power, what or whoever you consider that higher power to be. But, as I also believe that we all have within us a spark of that higher power, perfection, to me, is a kind of ‘cosmic lighthouse’ or ‘inner sat-nav’ to keep us travelling in the right direction; to help guide us home. This is all very ‘fluffy bunny’ and vague, so let’s put it into more practical terms.
I do not consider perfection to be clear skin, first class honours or an Olympic gold medal. When Torvill and Dean took home their twelve perfect 6 scores to win gold at Sarajevo, it was not the flawless routine that inspired so many of us to do better. It was the joy at watching them perform. It was realising the effort that had been put into that final delivery. It was the recognition, that with commitment, anything was possible.
In work. Whether you are employed, volunteering or studying, if you give it your 100% commitment, knowing that the job or voluntary work you are doing is helping others in some way, or that what you are learning will improve your skills and knowledge so that you can do better in the future, you are travelling in the right direction. Just knowing that you are genuinely giving the best you are able creates a feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction that is far more valuable to you than setting yourself up for the failure of expecting perfection.
In relationships. There is no such person as the perfect partner, (and how irritating would it be if there were?). We all have our flaws and our weaknesses. Good relationships are built on learning to understand, tolerate even embrace those flaws, we have our own after all.
Brace yourselves, I feel another quote coming on. This one is from Thomas Aquinas. ‘To bear with patience wrongs done to oneself is a mark of perfection, but to bear with patience wrongs done to someone else is a mark of imperfection and even of actual sin.’ Paraphrasing: tolerate flaws within limits and by choice, but witness harm being done to another, and that’s a different matter.
What does this view do to the way we live?
D W Winnicott, paediatrician and psychoanalyst first used the phrase ‘good enough’ when writing about parenthood and particularly, motherhood. Since then, ‘good enough’ has been applied to a myriad of situations and finds its way into this blog as the ‘slightly-less-than-perfect-but’ good-enough’ ending.
You can read more about being ‘good enough’ by following some of the links below, but to me if you do your best, learn what you can, take help and support when it is offered, and strive to be kind every moment of every day, that should be good enough for anybody.
Signing off for today, I wish you joy on your journey and invite you to comment on and share this post. Do explore the rest of the site here, and if you want to make sure you don't miss my next blog, be sure to subscribe below.
Healer, magistrate and supporting character from The POISE Archives urban fantasy series.