Perfection

This piece will be a masterpiece
Anything less would be worthless
Perfection, it has to be
Anything else, and I will burn it
Every stroke will be deliberate
Braided with the touch of an expert
I cannot hope to ever live with
The slightest flaw will be remembered
When they lay eyes on my work
They will tremble with envy
In every corner there will lurk
Another reason to commend me
But as I paint with steady hand and
See the strain of what’s expected
I cannot play without abandon
I am not free to be reckless
Let me snap in half this canvas
And wipe the tainted slate clean
I am foolish to have demanded
The unblemished and impossible gleam

 

Perfection is both unattainable and undesirable.

Perfection is subjective. What one person sees as a strength another might see as a flaw. You, or your work, will never be loved by everyone. You, or your work, will never be hated by everyone. It is impossible for someone or something to be comprehensively accepted or looked at in the way it was intended. No matter how long you toil to make something just right, it will be a fruitless endeavor in the eyes of someone. For this reason alone, perfection is unattainable.

Now, let’s hypothetically say there actually was some way to reach perfection. Would it even be desired? The more success, the more recognition, the more admiration someone has, the more people will want to bring them down. The more people will actively search for flaws they can expose and exploit. Why is that? Why would perfection not be celebrated all around? When you are humanized, through mistakes and characteristics you acknowledge and accept, your journey is something others can imagine themselves taking. They do not resent you for having something they cannot attain, because you also have something they want to avoid. If your underlying goal is to bring out the best in others, and help them achieve great things, it cannot be done from a perch of superior perfection.

A work of art is never finished, it is merely abandoned. An artist, and I mean this to include any individual who attempts to create anything, will always be able to find something they want to change. If given all of eternity, they will perpetually be able to tweak or redo a work, each iteration being more perfect than the last. If you get caught in this endless cycle, you will have achieved nothing. You will waste time such that nothing can be completed, and you strangle your ability to explore the rest of your prowess. At some point, that work needs to be shared with others. Don’t let fear of someone else not validating your work prevent you from finding a stopping point. Complete something that reasonably reaches your standards, receive actionable criticism, and iterate until it reaches your newly modified standards. Then, this is the most important point, move on. Something must be abandoned for you to shift focus onto a new undertaking, and continue to learn. Eternally grasping for perfection is a waste of time.

A final point about receiving criticism from others. If you are so invested in the idea of being perfect in some aspect of your life, you are setting yourself up for disappointment when someone comes along and contests it. And this absolutely is going to happen. Be comfortable with what you have accomplished, and what it means to you. Have a thick skin and be able to take criticism with a grain of salt. Don’t let your happiness be predicated on being perceived as perfect, because it can never be achieved.

 

Situational Questions

  • When attempting to master something, do you strictly adhere to the teachings presented to you? Do you berate yourself when the slightest detail is missed? In your quest for mastery, have you made room for exploring on your own and creating something new? Where is your identity shown?
  • Are you so critical of your own work that you end up hating anything you finish? Have you allowed others to supply their opinion about it? If it is positive, is there a reasonable compromise between your own negativity and their support? If it is negative, are you taking actionable steps to improve the quality?

 

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