Day 21, Who Defines Perfection?

I still smile about the day when as a teacher I asked my junior high classes, “Who defines perfection?”. They all looked at me with blank, huh… stares at first and then began to think. It was one of those questions which of course had no right or wrong answer. One that spiraled into the eternal Neverland of “I don’t know”.

Think about this question. Everyone seems to be striving for perfection, yet, what really is perfection and who decides what it is? Let’s look at outside image, something that bombards everyone, from everywhere!! Is that driven by marketing, media, an individual, a true survival need to stay covered and protected, money… We are supposed to be fit and healthy, not too fat, not too skinny, certain amount of muscle, blah, blah, blah! Then our hair, face, skin, the clothes we put on our body, the way we groom ourselves, the list goes on. What would happen if we all were blind and could not see one another – how then would we aspire to perfection? Smell? Skin texture? The sound of our voice? I am sure we would create some sort of measuring tool to assess who was better than another, for we seem to thrive on comparison.

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“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” ~George Orwell

Let’s look at our perfection with regard to “success”. The message I get from society is that success is measured by my professional title, the car in my garage, if I have a garage, my home, possessions, bank account and 401K, basically how I can be assessed outside of my true inner self. It does not matter so much, if I treat someone nice along the way to my success, it is just important that I get there. Look at how we communicate when we first meet each other. We share our name and then we move right into “What do you do?” My quandary is, what does that really tell me about the person I am meeting? Maybe they hate their job (a lot of this going around) and are truly passionate about dancing, but never got the chance to pursue that dream. When I switch things up and ask people, “What are you passionate about?” instead of inquiring what they do, there is a long silent confused pause. Often the response I get is, “I don’t know.”, this saddens my heart.

Perfection comes at us every weekend through sports. An area where we pay huge money for perfection. I do believe that there is a much clearer measuring definition for “perfection” in this arena. However, is it about how that person shows up not only as an athlete, but as a whole person? Can they still be perfect, if they beat someone, or treat others with arrogant disdain? Can they still be perfect if they use drugs or alcohol in an abusive way?

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“You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success – none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.” ~Ram Dass

Let’s peek at the dictionary definition:

per·fec·tion

pərˈfekSH(ə)n/

noun: perfection

1. the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

◦ a person or thing perceived as the embodiment of perfection.

◦ the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.

When I read this I think, okay, judging the perfection of a concrete item, that might be easy and clear. Yet, when you think about something as simple as a spoon, how I view perfection is likely going to be different than my daughter, friend, or stranger on the street. It is all relative and based on our personal perception and desires. Then, when you move to alive things, like our pets, yikes, how do you ever get agreement on perfection. So, when we move to people, who do we think we are to even attempt to measure perfection?!

Perfection in our world seems to be a moving target driven by the almighty dollar. Keep the fashions changing, so people have to have whats new. Change the “in look” for hair, body image, etc.., that keeps the capital flowing. Use the media to inform us on how we should be looking, what we should be doing, and why we want the latest and greatest, we will even stand in line for hours to get it.

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“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perfection. What exactly is it? And more importantly WHO defines it? When did we decide to give this power to someone and or something outside ourselves? Curiously, I always wonder, where does doing our best, being our authentic self, and living a passionate happy life come into the measurement process for perfection? Personally, I choose the latter as my barometer for living life….

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