Posted by: Monideepa Tarafdar | June 1, 2010

No Place for Perfection

We tend to think that “perfection” is a good thing, having been conditioned by our environments at home and school.  The perfect figure, the perfect grade, the perfect house and the the perfect garden – it is drilled into us that the pursuit of perfection  is desirable. The first “perfect 10” by Nadia Comaneci on the balance beam for instance is part of not only Olympic folklore,  it is one of the most goose-bump inducing sports performances ever. We admire, try to attain and yes, idolize perfection.

However, is perfection really indispensable? Or it even such a good thing all the time?

Consider your child’s first drawing or first nursery rhyme recital. The smudges, the scratches, the toddler-lisp, the missing lines. Would you trade those for flawless colors, lines and pronunciation or would you rather etch and store them up as-is in your memory, to be remembered the day she gets married or goes to college? What about the 12-year old who cries her heart out on your shoulder because “that boy” in her class does not even know she exists? Would you rather have a wet shoulder or a 100% poised girl who can handle her infatuations and doesn’t need you to listen to her heartbreaks?

Or think of your spouse – a spouse by definition, is imperfect and eccentric. He may forget to take the trash out or keep the toilet seat back down.  She may forget to  check if the bills have been paid. He may talk loudly and she may talk non-stop. He may be fat and she may be a diet freak.  She may hate base ball to the point of intolerance and he may forget that anything else exists when it is Monday night football. So what do you? Do you spend time and energy demanding that these things be done the “perfect” way or do you accept them and instead spend time exploring things you both love and enjoy?

Actually, there is no such thing as perfection. Every relationship, every love, every attempt at doing anything we love, every interaction – is imperfect. Each is blemished, yet each can make everything so worthwhile. Inspite of all of this, many of us relentlessly  demand perfection of ourselves and others. In the process we become impatient, stop listening, stop empathizing, stop accepting, even stop loving, we become pretty much intolerable. Yes, we might end up having the almost perfect house,  garden, or powerpoint presentation, but we might not have anyone to share those with. For, most of those who we love and cherish would have simply stopped walking with us and sharing our journey, exhausted by our sheer abilities for perfection at everything and disheartened and disappointed perhaps by our sheer inability  to understand how little they really matter.

Pursuit of that which we think is going to be perfect makes us human boomerangers – we turn people away and we hurt those we love. So here is to imperfection, eccentricities, blemishes – the whole works. After all, who wants to be perfect and lonely?

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