You see, when weaving a blanket, an Indian woman leaves a flaw in the weaving of that blanket to let the soul out. ~ Martha Graham.
As a former perfectionist (who am I kidding, I still am to a certain extent), I thought I’d tackle the subject of it. I’m not sure how I came to be someone who demanded perfection, mainly of myself — not others, mind you.
I’d over-analyze conversations I had with people when responses didn’t turn out the way I anticipated. I’d internalize when someone was mad, thinking it must’ve been something I’d done. I’d try to control situations, scurrying here and there, trying to make sure everyone was happy. That could be at a workplace, family get-togethers, events — any and everything that required not only my participation, but the cooperation of others.
Inevitably, things do go wrong. People get mad and disappointed. As I grow older and become a little more loving and gentle with myself, I realize just what a narcissistic way of thinking being a perfectionist is. The outcome, the expectation hinges on yourself — the way in which you do this or “control” that. It’s all an illusion. Things usually work out the way they work out, with or without someone trying to navigate a “perfect” outcome.
And trying to be perfect, well it’s exhausting and you never, ever get there. Because perfection, the idea of it, is personal and different to each of us. The funny thing is though, if you ever do reach it, then what?
It’s the Flaw That’s Perfect
When I identify with a character in a great book, it’s their flaws I love to love or love to hate. When I pick up a stone or a shell that has an unexpected ridge or bump or “strange” color, it’s that differentiation that attracts me. When I look at my dogs with white coats and see a little smudge of apricot near an ear or rub a pink belly with a speckle of brown here or there, it’s those “imperfections” that endear me to them — that make them even more perfect.
We’re constantly surrounded by images that suggest we must be perfect; our skin, our hair, our bodies, our jobs, our homes, our lives. If we get too caught up in it, we become slaves to whatever trend dictates this or that as perfect. We then run around trying to find it so that we can be the perfect wife, mother, husband, partner, lover, friend — whatever the case — until we realize that it’s all “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
In reality, we’re perfect exactly the way we are, right now. When I lament over “I need to lose a few pounds or more than a few” or look at myself in the mirror and notice lines on my face that weren’t there a few years ago or hand hubby a pair of glasses so he can read that damn tiny print on a menu or magazine or book, I stop and think — it’s all these little “flaws” that define the life I’ve led — that’s brought me here — this life, this love and this right now.
And I’ll remind myself of that and recite a quote in my mind that’s one of my all-time favorites that’s brought me through changes, upheavals, good times and bad:
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
That peace, to me, is the definition of perfection.
Happy Monday everyone and I hope that whatever your idea is of the perfect day, you have exactly that — today.
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What’s your idea of perfection? A place, a person, a memory, a feeling, an object, an experience? What made it perfect?
Addendum: Emily at The Waiting just anointed me with a honor. Please go visit her — she’s wonderful — not just because she did this, but because she is. Head on over to her place and to BroJo’s blog, Brother Jon — they are both good people and we all need more of those.