Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Imperfection

A soldier in one of the films my class and I saw yesterday made a claim that really struck me. He said something like in the military, you’re trained to do things perfectly, but in real life, you can’t achieve perfection, so you’re left feeling guilty and ashamed. I’m sure that’s true, but I don’t think it’s only in the military. All of us, everywhere, no matter what we do, consistently fail to live up to our own expectations, and as a result, feel worse about ourselves than we would otherwise.

From the moment I get up, I start falling behind my image of myself. If I get out of bed at 5:07, I think I should have been up by 5:06. I brush, but fail to floss. Doing 100 stomach rolls to get my intestines working only means I ought to have done 110.

At the yoga studio, every pose is an exercise in not being better at it. I come home and shave, but even with a new razor, there are spots I miss. My morning coffee is fine, but if I’d have let it steep another minute or so, it would be better.

And so it goes, all day long. Every effort, though acceptable, is not as good as it could be, but of course, the only reason each is acceptable is because I’m not as good as I could be. Had I higher standards, I’d never be satisfied.

I suppose this is the human condition: we’ve developed the cognitive abilities to conceive perfection but our physical abilities to achieve it lag far behind. We’re like the Salieri character in the movie “Amadeus:” forever blessed to adore Mozart’s sublime genius; forever cursed to fall far short of it.

The best we can do is, of course, the best we can do, so perhaps all we can do is learn to accept things as they are. I’ll start with this, and not change a word.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Michael R said...

Accept, forgive, enjoy.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Dr. Logan said...

awesome. well said.

9:55 PM  
Blogger SueJ said...

Is satisfaction necessary? What is (inherently or otherwise) wrong with revising and re-examining?

8:03 AM  
Blogger gazer said...

What was the movie?

9:52 AM  
Blogger dashap said...

It was called "Operation Homecoming," a documentary about the NEA program of the same name that connects veterans with writing teachers to write about their experiences in wartime.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Coach Tammy said...

small world, teach! Great to find you via my friend Kent.

I've been pondering this question myself, though not as eliquently as you, in regards to my career. Thank you for the fuel to keep the pondering alive...

9:56 PM  

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