Perfection is only true of the imperfect.
This is a concept that has been rattling around in my head since I was young.
Let’s talk it out.
You may have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The model stipulates that people need certain things before they can even worry about other things. For example, if you are not safe, you probably aren’t too concerned with improving your self-esteem.
It’s an interesting idea but I don’t fully agree with it. It is often true en mas, so from a sociological point of view, I think it has some merit. But we aren’t studying people – we are studying the individual. You. Me.
So let’s dismiss the idea that you have to have a full belly before you worry about religion or bettering society as a whole. Let’s dismiss the idea that you need to have your needs met before you can have any self-esteem.
Even if you are hungry and homeless, you can still dream up an idea that changes the world, and you can still feel like you have worth. You can still feel the love of your family and friends, even if you are all on the street together. Can’t you?
Let me know if you disagree. I currently have a full belly, so I must admit to my bias on the subject. I may wish to know what certain things are like, but I don’t think a person can truly know what it is to be in a situation unless they come to it without their own intention. No matter my capacity for empathy – Having choices breeds its own bias.
Back to perfection. I would define perfection as the state of something which cannot be improved. If that is so, it sounds like a lovely thing. A perfect object is without flaws. A perfect job is without fault. A perfect path is without obstacle.
What if the thing that you want is to have a feeling of accomplishment? Not happiness, per se. Being free of the need for external sources of happiness is just as important as the Taoist say. But accomplishment is something else.
You can Buddha that idea as far as it will go but I can’t imagine a perfect situation in which I could be truly content, other than death. For isn’t the concept of death simply the lack of life? And isn’t life defined by struggle? So if you are not struggling to eat or procreate or learn or grow or improve yourself or your surroundings… What about you is alive? Vital?
A perfect world, therefore, is one in which there is room to grow, improvements to be made, worlds and ideas to discover. But then, it is imperfect. If you need to discover a way to fly to the moon, it is because the current travel options are imperfect for such a task. If you want to eat oatmeal, it is because the apple was not the perfect solution to your hunger.
I have been known to sit and consider ways I can improve my home. I’d like to dig up the grass and replace it with something softer. I’d like to finish the wall in the bathroom from where we replaced the shower but ran out of money before we could get someone to finish the wall and tile. I’m very happy with my home, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see the imperfections – the things I can still do to make it better.
I have a cupboard full of food. I have a roof over my head and a family. I have a job and a hobby. I have so many wonderful things in my life. But I am not sitting in my living room, contemplating the perfection of my house.
If my husband was perfect, I would feel terrible. I am not perfect. I try not to change him, but there is a very long list of things I would change if I could. But then he’d be… boring. Part of the reason for that is that we don’t generally know what we need.
I need my husband to annoy me into getting up in the morning. I need him to annoy me into doing my job. I need him to annoy me into living because I don’t have much desire to carry on day after day. I need him to want to go to concerts. And I need him to need me.
Perfection is not want I want. I want to achieve. I want to find a lacking and invent, create, discover the solution. I want imperfection. And any perfection that does not have a flaw is, therefore, imperfect.
Perfection is good in small doses. A perfect picture, a perfect day. But a perfect world sounds awful.