Is Perfect Possible? The Myth Called Perfection

Seeing Beauty

Perfection: Taking pains and giving them to others. – Unknown

The Myth Called Perfection

There was a time when I thought perfection was something to be attained, a must-do. Perfection was a box that had to be checked for everything.

I think engineering school had something to do with the belief. I know it had something to do with Purdue’s mandatory faded green grid paper for all engineering assignments. Every problem had an answer which had to fit within those faded green squares. Every problem in Calculus, Physics, Heat and Mass Transfer, Fluids, and Electronical Engineering Lab had a pat answer and could be solved a straightforward way. Either you got it right or it was wrong. Perfection or failure.

It did not take long after graduation from engineering school for me and my classmates to learn that there is no pat answer in real life. The screw threads designed to hold a massive weight eventually become fatigued and break. The perfect insulator, asbestos, is proclaimed a carcinogen. The perfect computer program can still crash with a power outage.

Is Perfect Possible?

Have you ever tried to write a perfect sentence? Or attempted to paint a perfect flower? How about a perfect face — have you ever seen one? Or photographed a perfect scene?

daisy with dew

In my job now, I often cross left-brain and right-brain worlds. I work on website and user logic as well as help to create visual brand assets. For some things, I am back designing to prevent failure on that faded green grid paper, and for others, I am in the no-right-or-wrong world of Photoshop.

Recently, I watched a person scrunch his nose and twist his mouth as he tried to think of a way to evaluate a new visual display. Nevermind this person had made nearly 20 revisions on the art before it was approved and became final. Nevermind that this large display had been done well and was visually attractive. Perhaps it did not even have a flaw on the whole piece — this person still evaluated it as if no thing could ever measure up.

His response made me think about perfection.

Happiness and Vibrant Living Do Not Happen Alongside Perfection

“Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali

Do you often see true happiness in someone who expects perfection? Is a perfectionist able to let go and enjoy a moment for all it is worth?

I think it is rare. Happy, vibrant living does not happen alongside perfection. Why? Perhaps the perfectionist is so focused on the requirements for perfection that they cannot let go and enjoy and really live.

Somehow, it’s easy in our world, especially in black-and-white professions like accounting or engineering, to believe the illusion that perfection is attainable. And it is not only attainable, but it must be attained. But that’s not the way the world works. That’s not the way we are wired. Perfection is not a human possibility. Perfection is a myth.

Perfection takes pains and gives them to others.

I can say after years of peeling back the layers, I do not strive for perfection any longer. Instead, I hope to be a cushion — to soften the blows in a world which deals sharp blows too often, and to soak up the joy when it is present. And there is much beauty, grace, and joy to be found.

Instead of scrunching up my face in displeasure, I want to share a smile. Instead of taking pains and giving them to others, I want to share laughter and kindness.

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

6 thoughts on “Is Perfect Possible? The Myth Called Perfection

  1. What beautiful and accurate assessment of perfection versus true joy. I started thinking about the aphorism of, “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” So many ways to view the fact that the ‘good,’ is quite miraculous and its achievement brings with it happiness. Because I don’t know that much about so many things, I looked at Google and Wikipedia. I found this brilliant quote from Robert Watson-Watt, the Scottish born Brit engineer that developed early warning radar. He claimed to developing ‘the cult of the imperfect.’ He described this saying, “Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.” This cult of the imperfect saved many lives during WWII.

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    1. Thank you for sharing the quote from Watson-Watt. It’s always so interesting to wonder about the serendipity in the combination of hard work and discovery. Imperfect allows us to discover the unexpected, which sometimes brings so much joy. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Richard!

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  2. I struggle with this a lot!! Thank you for your word and lovely analogies. The visual of the screw threads fatiguing under weight will stay with me! I am always saying to my husband: “I just want to be perfect – is that so much to ask??” Of course it never happens and when I really try, wanting to be perfect is often what causes the most stress.

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    1. A long time ago, I heard a musician/writer share that the things she writes she does because she needs to hear them the most. That’s the case for me and my writing, too, I think. So often, I struggle with something and need to write about it to understand it better. Interestingly, the act of creation shrivels under perfectionism — and I love your Wire and Salt creations. Keep creating! Thank you for sharing, Pamela!

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