Ever see the movie Black Swan? It’s about this ballerina who, “just want[s] to be perfect.” She’s gunning for the role of the swan in Swan Lake and has to embrace her inner-bad-girl to get the part. It’s a weird movie – and I was giving it the benefit of the doubt until the very end. Spoiler Alert – she dies. She was trying to so perfect that she dies.
I always judge a movie based on the ending – and this one was lame. Not satisfying, artsy in a very typical way, and barely memorable.
A major theme in the movie is that perfection is impossible. Natalie Portman is this stunning, talented ballerina who lands the role of a life time, but she picks at the tiniest imperfections with the intention of making them right – only to make everything so much worse. In the scene when the director of the ballet announces that Natalie is the lead in the production, she’s standing with him on a stairwell, resplendent in a gorgeous gown, makeup, up-do … the works. But as she glances down at her hand holding a champagne flute, she notices that she has a hangnail and it’s so distracting, that she starts to pick at it and pull it off, ’til she starts bleeding. Her pursuit of perfection was so myopic, that she didn’t see what a mess she was making and in the process missed a glorious moment.
Don’t we all do this? We have an idea of what perfection is and when we almost have it, we find the one thing that isn’t perfect and pick away.
For example, this weekend was my idea of a perfect weekend. Mt. Man and I took a little road trip down to Austin to drop off Kratos, our youngest dog, at the trainer’s and made the rounds to some of our favorite restaurants and walking around some of favorite neighborhoods. When we got home, we had a pleasant walk with Nike (she’s already been through training). Then the next day, we started with brunch at a new place that was so spectacular…. I mean wow! After that, we caught the new Avengers movie and gorged ourselves on popcorn. Perfect right?
Close – so very close.
Between brunch and Avengers there was the small matter of deep cleaning the oven and the floors of our old apartment before we turned in our keys. And no I35 road trip is complete with out some amount of traffic. Oh and, Nike was not exactly on her best behavior on the walk. And then all the awesome food we had over the weekend sort made me feel like crap around 5:00 on Sunday and has carried over to the work week – but other than that … a perfect weekend.
Why do we do this? Why do we pick apart the little, bad things at the expense of valuing the overall goodness of our circumstances?
What is this allure of perfection? Why do we want it so badly that endlessly nitpick which ironically makes us ignore that which is perfect?
Is it because there’s no such thing as perfect with out the imperfect for comparison?
Is it because if everything is perfect, there’s nothing for us to do – and we’d rather be busy than content?
Is it because we’re actually all secretly insecure narcissists who see every minuscule flaw and are fearful that everyone else will see it too so we hasten to appear flawless?
This is exhausting.
The pursuit of perfection is exhausting. Exhausting, and pointless. Clearly, since lots of things are screwed up – there is no such thing as perfection, so it’s a waste of time wild goose chase.
Partly because I’m selectively lazy, partly because I don’t like wasting my time, but mostly because I enjoy sanity and savoring the good things in life, I have decided that I’m done with the pursuit of perfect.
Perfect doesn’t exist so I’m not going to look for it or stress about making it happen. Just like I’m not going to look for a unicorn or try to encourage Nike to grow a horn – it’s just not worth my time, energy and my remaining capacity to care.
I will either ignore or grin-and-bear my never-clean floors (that’s what happens when you have two German Shepherds), the unpleasant tasks, traffic and people.
I will savor my amazing weekends, my clean kitchen counters and each and every cup of coffee I drink. I chose to focus on what is right in my world, and what is worth making right.