I think about perfection every day. I want everything that I do to be perfect. Some of my clients want what I do for them to be perfect as well (fortunately, most just want the job done, the best that it can be). But, guess what? Perfection is neither attainable nor sustainable for my life and business. I know this, yet I daily work and toil, polishing away the imperfections, delaying communication until everything is as it should be, and I continue chasing the elusive goal of closure.
The Art Of The Polish
Polishing is simply removing blemishes, snags and imperfections that distract and detract from a shape or form. However, why is it every time I try to make a surface perfectly smooth, I end up going too far and ruin what I have done, creating more work to get to another point of perfection?
Polishing perfection makes me think of the worship of sculptures and statues: Year and after year, decades and millennia of of people touching, rubbing and kissing the feet. What happens to the stone over time? It loses its sculpted form and returns to the stone’s original form.
Perhaps that is the true act of perfection.
A return to our natural state of being.
You Can’t Hear Me Until I Say So
As I seek the illusion of perfection, I realize that I hide from others and fear talking and sharing what I have created. Why is that? Does the act of creation really make artists that afraid of what people will think? Or is it the fear of what people will say?
Words hurt the soul of the artist. Often artists are told such wonderful platitudes: “You need thicker skin,” “learn to take criticism,” or even, “artists should grow a pair.” But do these platitudes truly make us better creators, in tune and sensitive to our souls and surroundings? Or just edgy, distracted and unsatisfied?
Criticism is good. I recognize that a voice of welcomed criticism can be used constructively to make me a better artist. However, why have critics been elevated to god-like status instead? Blessing some with the label of perfection and bestowing failure upon the misfortunate?
Chasing An Elusive Goal
I’m working on a project that is trapped in a cycle of perfection: Creation, suggestions, changes, rinse and repeat. This cycle of perfection leads to a vicious process of call and response with no ending in site, leaving completion and closure elusive and non-existent. If this particular project requires that much perfection, is it really thought-out and well-defined? Is perfection a crutch of acceptance or are we believing the lie that we can be God? Perfect, holy, divine and blameless (if we just work hard enough)?
Beauty Is The Cure
Imperfections are the defining traits of what is beautiful. Anomalies create interest and intrigue. Knots in wood, veins in marble, discoloration and fading, asymmetry in the design of faces and bodies, all natural design flaws that create interest, intrigue and beauty.
But we still tell ourselves and allow culture to shape the lie that imperfections are ugly, that beauty is looking a certain way.
Beauty is accepting what we are.
Perfection is the act of being processed, much like our food and entertainment, into a plastic and inanimate form of idolatry. “Worship me,” says our perfection, as we transform our bodies, minds and spirit through unnatural means to become a living statue?
Beauty is accepting what we can never be.
Beauty is accepting what we were never meant to be.
Perfection or beauty? Can you have both?