HOW do you define a word without concrete meaning? To each his own, the saying goes, soWHYpush to attain an ideal state of being that no two random people will agree isWHERE you want to be? Faultless. Finished. Incomparable. People can never be these, and anyway, WHENdid creating a flawless facade become a more vital goal than learning to love the personWHOlives inside your skin? The outside belongs to others. Only you should decide for you -WHATis perfect.
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.
There is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist. Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend. Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself. The deity is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived, not taught.
If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy. It's a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it's a lot more fun.
As Aristotle said, 'Excellence is a habit.' I would say furthermore that excellence is made constant through the feeling that comes right after one has completed a work which he himself finds undeniably awe-inspiring. He only wants to relax until he's ready to renew such a feeling all over again because to him, all else has become absolutely trivial.
Pregnancy had seemed a reasonable excuse for letting her metal-smithing tools languish, but that accounted for only eighteen months of the last twenty-six years. Motherhood wasn't the real problem, though it took him a long time to figure out what was. She needed resistance, the very quality that metal most demonstrably offered up. Suddenly Glynis had no difficulty to overcome, no hard artisan's life with galleries filching half the too-small price of a mokume brooch that had taken three weeks to forge. No, her husband made a good living, and if she slept late and dawdled the afternoon away reading Lustre, American Craft Magazine and Lapidary Journal, the phone bill would still get paid. For that matter, she needed need itself. She could overcome her anguish about embarking on an object that, once completed, might not meet her exacting standards only if she had no choice. In this sense, his helping had hurt her. By providing the financial cushion that should have facilitated making all the metal whathaveyou she liked, he had ruined her life. Wrapped in a slackening bow, ease was a poisonous present.
If you don't believe in God, it may help to remember this great line of Geneen Roth's: that awareness is learning to keep yourself company. And then learn to be more compassionate company, as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage. I doubt that you would read a close friend's early efforts and, in his or her presence, roll your eyes and snicker. I doubt that you would pantomime sticking your finger down your throat. I think you might say something along the lines of, 'Good for you. We can work out some of the problems later, but for now, full steam ahead!
Years later, on a Steve Jobs discussion board on the website Gawker, the following tale appeared from someone who had worked at the Whole Foods store in Palo Alto a few blocks from Jobs' home: 'I was shagging carts one afternoon when I saw this silver Mercedes parked in a handicapped spot. Steve Jobs was inside screaming at his car phone. This was right before the first iMac was unveiled and I'm pretty sure I could make out, 'Not. Fucking. Blue. Enough!