It’s a perfect day

Published 4:02 pm Friday, May 3, 2019


Coffee with Mimi

While working on a major project last year, a young man — a kid, really, at the time — gave me a major life lesson. He and I were lining up a long row of tables which needed to be straight, though the line was broken every two tables. The process was really a two step action as there was another task, related to the tables, but not involving the straight line, ongoing. I was determined to straighten before the time was right.

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My young partner moved me along with the simple and innocently profound reminder that perfection comes later. In other words, it is a waste of time to expect everything to be straight before the total job is complete.

Truth be told, perfection is a tough reality. There are many religious and existential essays  researching and contemplating the concept of perfection. I am not commenting in their league, just on life as I live it.

There is a myth that some artisans throughout history make an intentional mistake in their work.  I suspect with the ancients it had something to do with tempting the displeasure of the gods.  Others theorize that some artistic creators don’t want to proclaim perfection in work as doing so would be disrespectful of the belief that no human is perfect.

Some even argue that that refusal to declare perfection is, in itself, vain and haughty.  Honestly, can we ever give folks a break?

Truly, I wish no disrespect, but I think perfection is a state of living and each day it is different.

Often, a perfect project is determined to be so based on a set of criteria which has been determined by a committee — how much money was raised, how many people attended, how many engagements were generated on social media and so forth. Following such an event, an evaluation is conducted. If the goals are met the endeavor was a success. Was it perfect?  Perhaps the word is never mentioned and the book is closed as either a successful, or not, event.

Perfection is defined as a condition, state or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects. Now you know. Maybe you do, but I beg to differ. Remember, I’m working from a different angle.

First of all, I think the definition wiggles out of the job of a definition. Definitions, by definition, are supposed to be definitive. The dictionary writers are bound to inform me so I know perfection hinges on the freedom from flaws.  But, even they recognize the facts and must cover their bases and throw in the caveat that there is some possibility that flaws are OK if they are not under your control. 

It appears to me that perfection allows a person be honest, too. A hearty and healthy dose of humility is good to practice, as well.

Back to the criteria on which we evaluate a project. We have the factors which are quantifiable; technique of construction, planning, attendance at the event, successful financial result or whatever are appropriate markers for the project at hand. Then there are the ephemeral aspects; those little bits that nudge around the edges and make you just flat tickled to death that you did it, or had anything at all to do with it.

It’s the stuff that makes you grin from ear to ear at the end of the day and ready to go at it again the next day.  It’s perfect, and furthermore, it makes even the not perfect just fine.

After a lifetime of avoiding certain public displays of personal artistic expression, and due to a lack of willingness to suffer inspection, I determined to get over it. Here is where the elements of honesty and humility fit in.

I completed the art project I had boldly and publicly announced I would. I turned it in. It is out there. Upon not so close inspection, one can easily see my fate with any ancient gods has not been compromised, nor am I avoiding the illusion of perfection through inclusion of intentional flaws.          

There are mistakes, lots of them.

Some of the mistakes are due to a lack of experience, some to lack of knowledge. Some problems are because I couldn’t fiddle with it anymore and went with it.  Am I happy with the finished product? Absolutely. It’s perfect. A second piece is already drawn out incorporating the knowledge I gained through the experience and the constructive and welcome comments of other artists.

Did you notice I said other artists? Here is where humility comes in. Very few valuable personal experiences are born of solitude. Most improvement and growth comes through inspection and conversation. Throughout history, people of like mind have often gathered in communities both formal and informal. 

Work was shared. Some people became famous.  Many more were influenced.

I have no plans to become famous, or noted for anything. I do strive to sit on my porch at the end of the day and evaluate the progress as perfect.