Perfection is a state of mind. Good enough often is, but excellence is worth pursuing.
When is a nest a nest? A painting a painting? A goal, attained?
I have a friend who spends significant energy towards reaching a state of ‘perfection’; in social plans, home projects and personal creative pursuits. She’s a “just so” sort of gal and feels a sense of lack when things aren’t.
If you were to visit her home, see her crafts, experience her life you might wonder how it is she frets. Her life is perfect! But not to her. And besides, there’s no perfect life, is there. Perfect moments, yes. Perfect life, no, that’s a sort of myth and certainly doesn’t occur via seeking perfection. Though perfect moments can be achieved in seeking excellence.
Does a beaver forming a dam attempt perfection? Nah — a beaver is a pragmatist going straight for the good enough. He chops wood and carries sticks ( To quote a Zen saying: ‘Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.‘) until the creek is dammed. Period. He doesn’t keep fussing with the design until it’s some sort of ‘perfect’.
Or does he? After all, there are several ways to define perfect. There’s the “Wow, never been done better!” sort of perfect and the “There, that oughta do it.” type. We have to look at the Beaver’s goals. Is he in it for the architectural accolades or is he in it to adjust his micro-topography so he has a dry, safe place to sleep the winter away? Beavers are practical; I’m guessing the latter. But I hear some of you say “Maybe both?”.
The Bowerbird is an artist. Not just an artist, but an artiste! He constructs bowers, or architectural sculptural structures out of found objects, often with blue highlights. This is a life long pursuit. He keeps at it ever perfecting the design. This isn’t just for his own desires — he’s doing it to attract the attention of the art-aficionado, discriminatory Lady Bowerbird. Her external judgement lights the creative fire in the belly of the Mr. Bowerbird. So while he might have been personally content with a mediocre bower he intuitively knows that if he’s going to successfully pass on the family art business (wink wink) he’s gotta extend himself towards perfection.
Perfection can be attained through personal clarification of what’s good enough. Sometimes a sheet cake with a dusting of powdered sugar will do — sometimes you have to layer that baby up and fuss with frosting and fondant. If excellence is about high level quality and that being subjective and relative to individual definitions then we all have full capacity to slide our own dreams around all these concepts, adjusting and readjusting them, with ease and fluidity.
The Secret to Satisfaction
We can adapt our own expectations to accept the what-is-ness of our lives and its elemental moment to moment unfolding of how we define personal goals. That’s the secret to satisfaction; allowing for fluctuations in what we’re happy with. At times we may be very “Beaver-y”, but at others we may emulate the Bowerbird. Kind of depends on who we’re doing it for.
Letting these concepts flow through our expectations allows us to achieve a state of excellence – because, rather than just continuous mindless pursuit – we constantly reevaluate and re-choose what we focus on. This frees us right up to experience moments of perfection!