Thursday Thoughts: Perfection

“We are our own worst critic.” Who said that? No idea, but I have heard it stated many times. Should we take this a positive or negative? Does delicate scrutiny drive us to create our very best work or limit creations from being experienced?

I’ve been doing some painting the last few days – not the Michelangelo style – just the wall/ceiling/baseboard type. It wasn’t my place either, although that would be extra incentive to do my best work.

There were areas that I knew would never be seen, or places where you would have to be in a very distinct location (sitting on the floor on the left hand side, while leaning at a 46 degree angle during the summer solstice) in order to view it. Some spots were giving me headaches, although that may have been the fumes. I could have left those parts, saved some time – and paint – But I just couldn’t do it.

During my schooling as a music student, perfection was the goal. There were much better players than I, and while listening to different performances, I would be hard pressed to hear any mistakes. Yet, while I played, I heard all the subtle flaws in my playing. Often, it would be those errors that initiated more errors as I dwelt upon then rather than focus on the notes that were yet to be played.

Most people will accept imperfections as part of life. We see the big picture rather than the pixels that create it.

Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of The Goldberg Variations was touted as being the perfect realization of the work. I’m sure Mr. Gould thought so. Yet in 1981, he recorded it again. Could I tell the difference? Not really (less humming perhaps?), but there had to be changes. Was this closer to perfection? If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have been released, right?

Here is a good definition of perfection: “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” As free as possible? I think that that is a very important caveat. Why? Because as long as we do our best and can be satisfied with the result, then we have achieved our goal.

I came up with this quote: “Perfection leaves you nowhere to go.” Imperfection is what makes us human and drives us forward. Just read any utopian story. Even those utopias have imperfections inherent in them, which is the perceived perfection that is ultimately its stagnation and downfall.

Also, if we as writers were prefect, it would put our editors out of work*.


Note: Every try to draw a circle with an Etch-a-Sketch? Even doing it freehand is an impossible task.

*Are there mistakes in this post? Don’t know. I didn’t really proofread it very carefully…