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