Perfection | Teen Ink


December 8, 2012
By CloudConnection BRONZE, Billerica, Massachusetts
CloudConnection BRONZE, Billerica, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You know they say there's always someone worse off? I'm that person!" - Crow

As humans, we are mechanically inclined to search for perfection. Everybody wants to be perfect, and when they become perfect, they want to be better. People strive for perfection in multiple ways. Some chase perfection spiritually; they cleanse their body and soul of sin and always follow the principle of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Some chase it in their profession; they want to be the best at their work and refuse to have any competition. And some chase it mentally; balancing the troubles of life and the counterweights that support them to a degree that satisfies him best.

But let’s face it - perfection is unachievable. Those who dedicate their lives to being perfect are merely chasing shadows. Perfection is not something you can turn on by flicking a switch or pushing a button. Perfection is an abstract idea, something we humans made up the concept of in an attempt to make us all better. No man can ever be perfect. I am not perfect, and you are not perfect, and none of the people around you are perfect.

Perfection means you have done everything right and nothing wrong. To me, this seems like a standard set way too high. An artist can make the most beautiful drawing that mankind has ever seen, and it would not be perfect. All it would be is the most beautiful drawing (which is not to say that the most beautiful drawing isn’t a big accomplishment, because it most certainly is).

The one reason perfection is unattainable is because of one thing - opinion. The most beautiful drawing would still have its detractors. One man might find no flaws in the drawing that another man would find in a heartbeat, but that is only because they look at it with different pairs of eyes. There cannot be a concrete definition of perfection if there is opinion.

(Remember, though, that there can be no creditability from the creator’s opinion. If the artist thinks his drawing is perfect, then obviously, you must let him think so. But his thinking would be biased, for he made the drawing, and thus would think it perfect.)

Consider this - you have turned in an assignment that you poured all of your effort into. You met the requirements, and you went beyond them; you think you have done the best you could do. You are handed back the assignment and only one word is scribbled on the entire paper by the reviewer - “perfect”.

Of course, your first instinct would be to savor this critique, if you could call it so. Just from that one word, you know that you have created the sole piece of work the reviewer was looking for. You covered all the bases, and then you hit a grand slam out of the park right down the central line. You created what your reviewer would call “a work of art”. You did everything right, and nothing wrong. You would be ecstatic! Your heartbeat would rise! You’ve accomplished everything and all the things beyond it! You succeeded! You succeeded!

Success is a double-edged sword, my friends.

Remember that you have only created the perfect paper for one person, and one person only. And though he may have found it perfect, almost everyone else would find something to criticize about it. And if they were to look at it, you would be unprepared. If you think you have created perfection, then you would not be able to decipher imperfection, which, in the long term, is not a good thing.

Perfection is nullified so long as the human race can still criticize, and from my perspective, we will be able to for a long, long time. In typing this, I am reminded of a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., in his letter to his fellow clergymen from a jail in Birmingham - “if I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work”. King’s point is solid. You should never focus on fixing every single criticism one may have about your work. If you do, you will never be able to continue onward with the other tasks you have been given, and your ability, as well as your time, to work will be diminished.

Think about what would happen if, upon its publication, I immediately decided to fix every criticism that aroused from this essay. As long as there were critiques for me to fix, I would be busy. Critiques would come in day after day, and I would seek to correct them, but three more criticisms would be the result of responding to just one. No, I would never do such a thing. When this essay becomes published, I shall be done with it. If you want a different experience each time you read it, then it will have to be driven out from your reading, because I will not constantly hammer out corrections in an attempt to create the perfect essay.

Why, then, does perfection, as a term, exist? My guess is that we all strive for perfection - whether or not we believe we will actually achieve it - just so we can become better for it. Think of the quest for perfection like a road trip. The destination may prove inapproachable, but what you will have gained on the journey to perfection will more than have made up for the unsatisfactory ending. And, in my mind, it works. It’s okay to shoot for the moon just so long as the shots you miss don’t end up hurting anybody else.

So if you do aim to be perfect, at least acknowledge that your aim will never hit, no matter how precise you are. If you realize this fact, then I applaud you. But if you settle into your mind the false idea that perfection is achievable, then I have only one thing to say - your journey will be a long one, and the path you travel will be narrow and difficult to travel on, and if you make one misstep, if you miss one turn, if you so much as nudge a tiny bit off the path, your journey will come to a complete halt. So be careful if you have a thought to stop and sniff the flowers.

The author's comments:
This is the first in a series of essays I plan to write and combine into a book.

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