Perfection vs. Ideal

With all the best intentions, I have always striven to “do my best”. That phrase has been the bane of my existence for many years!


In a recent conversation, I came to a new awareness. (Perhaps it isn’t new to you, but it broke-open some new possibilities for me!) As someone who has been lovingly and frustratingly labeled a “perfectionist”, I wear that title sometimes with pride and often with shame. It has always bewildered me why there are so many pros and cons to striving to accomplish or create something that is the pinnacle of my abilities. Yesterday a friend offered me a new perspective and as I have rolled it around in my head it makes a lot of sense.

What if perfection is a projection of the future and ideal is the vision of now?

Hold the boat; that question shifted my whole world. There was a moment of vertigo that caught my attention and I had to repeat that sentence word for word to grasp the enormity of it.

If the idea of working to make something “perfect” is doing whatever it takes to create something without flaws – is that even possible? In the quilting world, many fibre artists have intentionally (and not!) flipped, misplaced and sewn pieces incorrectly to highlight the belief that only what God makes is perfect. I’ve done that myself. As a human-doing (versus human-being) what I do is mortal, intentional and “enough”. And, if I lean into the alternative – could aspiring to an “ideal” be more present? If I simply give myself permission to stay in the “now” and let the opportunity and product emerge as a vision of what is possible in the moment – just that moment- would it be as acceptable?

Of course!  My current body of work revolves around this very idea – that being in the present is to be grounded, clear and authentic to my own values. Holding an ideal is nothing like pushing for perfection. One is visionary, the other is blindly chasing the impossible.

Thank you, Tom, for opening my mind and my arms to embracing this new perspective. This is a game-changer for me! When I let go of living in the future and wanting to make things perfect, I have the opportunity to be fully present and envision what is already emerging as delightful and more-than-enough!


Photo Credit: Alexander Andrews

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