The surprising potential of imperfection

It’s more of an observation than a post, really – if I used something like Twitter, it might be more appropriate as a tweet. Since what I opine from is a blog, I figure I’ll indulge myself a little, and add a few unnecessary words ;-)  I have been examining the concept of perfection recently, and this morning it simply dawned on me: our universe, at least the one we are aware of, owes its existence to imperfection. Motion, development, change … these are not the tools of a perfect state, yet they are exactly what enabled our universe to exist in the first place, and continue to do so. I’ve often told people in my life that the relentless pursuit of perfection must ultimately lead to disappointment. While I do understand that enjoyment and satisfaction are to be found in the challenge of pursuing perfection, it’s the perfectionist’s uncompromising insistence on what can’t be attained that I am remarking on here.

With this new bit of insight, it’s clear to me that pathological perfectionists are destined for disappointment and dissatisfaction, because what they seek actually goes against the grain of our very existence. Pagans, many of whom understand and accept that the gods are not perfect, might actually have a leg up on the rest of the world … we tend to embrace the more organic nature of things, including our gods (using the word, ‘tend,’ as I have bewilderingly encountered a few Pagans whose sense of perfectionism seemed pretty close to pathological to me at the time). If I do not have an example of perfection to constantly remind myself of my own imperfections and make me feel guilty for them, I can imagine I’m likely to live a much happier and less stressful life. Perhaps that is the wisdom in Jesus having chosen a mortal body from which to preach … the imperfection of his tangible and vulnerable body helped him to connect more closely to his followers. It’s only sad, then, that so many choose to define Jesus strictly by traits of his that are perceived to be perfect.

I think it is also likely that we err when we confuse perfect and imperfect with desired and undesired. Many seem to believe that perfection must be what is automatically desired, and set forth in their lives and endeavors with this belief at their core. But life isn’t like that – it is, using the word I’ve already used, organic. Perfection is, at any rate, also a highly subjective notion: if we all sit down and imagine what is perfect, we will all arrive at different images … if we wait five minutes and imagine perfection again, it’s likely our images will already begin to differ from what we originally imagined (perfection is no longer just unending ice cream, now we need some sprinkles). With this in mind, I think it’s important – especially for those laboring under the illusion of perfectionism – that we try to shift our trend away from seeking the perfect, and more honestly try to approach that which we simply consider to be desired – all the while accepting that the universe does not always accede to our wishes. There is nothing at all wrong with desiring the imperfect … it is, after all, what enables the vast potential that defines our existence.

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3 responses to “The surprising potential of imperfection

  1. Pingback: Good, better, best …. | Upon Raven Wings

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