Skip to content

A Woman’s Holy Grail: The Quest for Perfection

February 7, 2011

The quest to figure it all out and get it all done has worn me down to a nub

I was tempted to post a long line of laughter (hahahahahhaha) and leave it at that, but I decided, no, take this seriously and write something helpful; don’t just blow this off and make fun of our mystical search for perfection.

Every single word that is written to women by anyone writing anything online, on TV, or in magazines is about perfection. EVERY SINGLE WORD. That’s a lot of social pressure to withstand, and I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t that strong; when I was pushed by society to be perfect, I performed like the little pig’s straw house: I blew down. I caved. I gave in to the magical thinking that perfection is desirable, let alone attainable.

It’s not. I’m here to tell you that right now. I want to let you off that hook, because being 51 means a few things, and one of the things it means is that you reach the nexus of the Law Of Diminishing Returns, where it is no longer possible to attain perfection, even if you try really hard.

Think of yourself as a car. When you were born, you had a full tank, your paint was glossy and bright, and all of your parts worked really well. At the very least, you never noticed any strange noises, and there was bounce in your springs. By the time you reach your 30s, your gas tank is registering about 2/3 full, the paint is a little scratched, and some of the parts are starting to wear down, but nothing needs to be replaced just yet. You have time.

You hit 50, though, you are in sore need of major refurbishment. Pretty much everything on your chassis squeaks or groans, and some parts need to be replaced. Your tank is now down to about 1/2 full, or less. Your trade-in value is zilch. You stay in the garage almost all the time now, and when you do go out, you belch smoke and your tailpipe drags on the ground.

Worst of all, your view from the garage allows you to see that the other cars out on the road, passing you by, look a hell of a lot better than you do. This is where the Quest for Perfection begins: with the angst inspired when you compare yourself to others. This is the torture we put ourselves through, instead of focusing on our work, thoughts, needs, self.

Realistically and intellectually, when I stop to think about it all, I know perfectly well that perfection is not possible, because how is it defined? It’s always on a sliding scale, with the brass ring just beyond my reach. So why do I continue to grasp for that stupid ring? Why stay on the carousel at all? I think the answer lies in our deepest fear, that of being ostracized from the group. The phrase ‘beyond the pale’ speaks to this concern; if we live ‘beyond the pale,’ it’s because we’ve been forced into isolation, and who wants that?

Where are you placing this information in the org chart of your mind?

It all comes down to bias, and the need to be better than other people. As soon as you start comparing yourself to others, what you’re really saying is, “I’m not good enough the way I am”, or, “I’m better than you are, so there, nyaaah”. I don’t know about you, but I remember hearing stuff like that on the playground, circa 1964, when I was approximately 5 years old. I guess because our brains have a built-in need to order all incoming data, and turn everything we experience into some kind of hierarchy, we have an inner org-chart going on in our heads every moment, causing us anguish.

What is ‘perfection,’ though? Aristotle thought humankind (I’m paraphrasing; he actually said ‘men’, but we’re widening our nets here, to take the rest of humanity into account) was always searching for ‘the good,’ but the papyri where he actually defined ‘the good’ probably burned, along with the Library at Alexandria. Basically, he wanted us to experience the ‘well-lived life,’ but you immediately see the flaw in this: what was once a ‘well-lived life’ for the Ancient Greeks no longer applies (except for island-hopping, wine, olive oil, and possibly Ouzo, an import well worth trying).

What is your idea of the ‘well-lived life’? That’s where you should set your compass on your personal quest for perfection, because trust me, it’s the only definition that matters. And if everything else fails, and the only way to convince you that I’m right is to deride you, and smack you upside the head with a large wet tunafish, then how about this quote from Albert Einstein, of all people, who said “In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.” And you are not a sheep, dammit.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: