Sunday, October 5, 2008

Perfection VS Satisfaction

I'm at my parents' house, once again, to help out with getting the folks from one place to the other... and the ride here gave me time to think about perfection and satisfaction.

What should we be striving for, in life, in our art work, in our studies, in all of our endeavors? Is it perfection? Or is it satisfaction?

Some may say perfection. After all, it's a lofty goal, isn't it? Is there anyone who would deny that those who appear to achieve perfection are revered? A perfect test score, a perfect game, a flawless sculpture, a vaccine that would prevent cancer of all kinds, world peace (okay, it's starting to sound like a Miss America pageant... hey, the perfectly proportioned body!) are all wishes, dreams, ideals.

And then, when perfection is achieved... we are satisfied, right? I wonder.

Our son is an excellent student. An all around good person: caring, loving, diligent. Often as not, he achieves that perfect score we all dream of on his exams. He completes all of his homework, often a week ahead of schedule. Is he satisfied?

He worries all the time that he will not live up to expectations. Whose? Not ours. His teachers'? His own? He strives to be perfect, and we try to tell him that perfection is not necessary. Less than perfect is just fine. Work hard and do your best and don't sweat it. Enjoy the ride.

My mother is in pain. She wants her body to be back to the way it was before she had 3 knee surgeries and one partial hip replacement done by an incompetent surgeon, before her pulmonary embolism. She wants to be able to do the things she did before she had the full hip replacement by a competent surgeon, before the vascular surgery on her leg, before 2 extended stays at nursing homes where she was confused and miserable... before her shoulder began aching continuously. So, she goes to doctor after doctor asking them to fix it. Nothing less than perfection will do.

And I have friends who have trouble making things because someone else already does it better. Frankly, I've been there, afraid to put myself out there because my work is not perfect, is not as good as someone else's.

Well, I'm thinking that satisfaction is what we should be looking for. I'm not saying we shouldn't work towards improvement and doing the best we can when we strive to create, or compete, or learn something new. But at some point we should be looking at how satisfying the endeavor is.

You take a class, you learn a new skill, you take a few steps in a walker... you're offered praise, you enjoy the results, you rejoice in what you can do, satisfied in the process.

I'm thinking that perfection is overrated. I'm going to try to revel in my imperfection. That's my goal, now. Satisfaction in each day, in each new attempt. I'll let you know if it works...


Diana said...

This is what I needed to hear today. Thank you.


KellyK said...

Beautifully written! It should be classically published - it certainly hits its mark!

Orion Designs said...

Your post is truly heartfelt. It makes one think, which is always a good thing. You actually made my eyes well up with tears.

Laurel said...

Perfection is simply unachievable by imperfect humans. The few moments that we think of as perfect are only that way in that moment, and are not repeatable. We should never castigate ourselves for not achieving the impossible!

The goal that I always keep in mind is "progress, not perfection" - a phrase I learned many years ago in a 12-step program, and which has served me very well for a long, long time.

Kudos to you for figuring out much the same thing on your own!


Deronda G said...

Very thought provoking. You write very beautifully.

thebeadedlily said...

Interesting, interesting post . . .