Today my daughter told her little brother, from the back seat of our old car and projecting into the front seat, “There’s no such thing as perfect, right mom?”
I don’t know what she was asserting this over, but my answer took a long pause before sounding like this, “No, that’s actually a lie we tell kids and one another.”
Everyone knows it’s a lie.
Perfect, in all its opalescence, is definitely real.
We can see it; the security reinforced all around us via the Fibonacci.
I see it in the faces of my children and dog, every day.
I lock onto it when I walk into friends’ homes; the paint colors, the attention to placement, the constant reworking of what’s already a masterpiece. Even when things are thrown here and there; they’re draped over and resting on perfect bones.
It takes my breath away, the way the light hits the water sometimes, or what it does against the clouds. Most days, actually.
Unbroken, dew-dropped spiderwebs.
My husband’s laugh.
I’m not even going to start with music…
I can see it, and feel it, in my own work, when it hits the mark square on. And I can tell when it’s off.
Most of us know when a thing is not perfect.
My children can see it.
But we fear we’ll all be pressure cooked, or our children will become little perfectionists forged through any admission that Perfect is real.
We forget perfectionism is the star that burns inside of some, and not others, and though it’s possible to unwittingly plant it, it’s usually already woven thoroughly into an individual’s very fabric.
Perfection is Resourceful.
So we cut it off, and we lie. And it stares at us.
What did I say next?
“You know what perfect is.”
“It’s when you see something and all your brain and self says, oooooh, and you walk toward it with both your hands outstretched, or maybe you don’t, but you really, really want to…Right?”
“Yeah,” she said, cool as a cucumber.
Then I said, “It’s when we chase Perfect, and the idea of Perfect, and mark that feeling of Perfect as the only acceptable standard — then it’s a problem.”
Checking in the rear view mirror for eye contact, because sometimes they move on from my soliloquies, “It’s when we are consumed by it, that we get into trouble.”
Pause. Breathe. Peek for small eyes. “And when we miss out on the reality, that what we’re doing, who we are, and how our life is built right now are already complete, right, excellent, or even just plain good…then we are really wasting our life.”
After a couple beats of silence, my daughter said, “So, like when we are working on something, and it’s kind of done, but we keep working on it and working on it, trying to make it all perfect, but it’s already really good? Like that time you wouldn’t stop redoing that one section of the Thirteen Fishes painting?”
“Precisely,” I concluded, to her one raised eyebrow and the effervescent laughter of her little brother.