I highly doubt I am the only one who has noticed that the word ‘perfect’ has somehow crept into our vernacular and now seems to be widely accepted. It’s practically the go-to response when someone asks for your address or zip code or any basic identifier to prove you are who you say you are.

Utility supplier person: “Can you verify your address please?”
                                                Me: “Sure, it’s 123 Oak Street Lane”
                      Utility supplier person: “Perfect!”

No, that was not an example of perfection. That was simply me being able to provide my address. A simple ‘thank you’ would have sufficed or even an ‘ok’ would have been acceptable but to describe (judge) my response as perfect? It’s way off-base. I doubt the folks who respond with ‘perfect’ upteen times a day have any real awareness as to what they are saying.

Newspaper employee: “And how many days of the week do you want newspaper delivery?”
                               Me: “Seven”
Newspaper employee: “Perfect!”

No, that was not an example of perfection. That was simply me, in my arguably rudimentary ways, explaining that I want to have the newspaper delivered to my doorstop every single day. (And they do and every morning I open the door and like magic the paper is lying there waiting for me! I LOVE it!) However, simply responding to a basic question doesn’t deserve a response of “perfect”. In fact, it doesn’t even make sense.

Waiter: “What would you like to order?”
Me: “I’d like the Cobb Salad please” 
Waiter: “Perfect!”

No, that was not an example of perfection. That was simply me articulating what I would like for lunch. My friend had the chicken sandwich and his order was deemed “perfect” also. Our responses were not perfect. There is no such thing.

Nothing is perfect so why have we adopted the use of this word? Aren’t we smarter than this? Aren’t we more aware of the words we choose to use? Why has it become the accepted response whenever we answer a question? Any question? Have our standards lowered so much that simply responding to a question is perfect? Generations will always use words and phrases the ones before them did not. We don’t often hear the word “groovy” anymore or “like that was totally bitchin” and“my bad”  is quickly fading away but the overuse of the word perfect seems to have tentacles of expectation attached to it.

Our American culture is marketed to want perfection. We strive for the best of every possible thing. We’re told that we must have the most perfect everything in order to be happy; whether it is a car, a soda, a beer, a job or a phone; we want the absolute perfect version and we want it now, we want it faster, better, flashier, thinner, smoother, quicker and prettier. We want perfect. But do we really? When we allow ourselves time to think do we really want something unattainable? Do we really value perfection?

What makes art valuable? The flaws.
What makes your life rich? The things that have humbled you.
What makes your heart strong? The fact that it has been broken.
What makes nature beautiful? The fact that elephants mourn, that trees grow around diseased limbs, that animals will take care of abandoned babies even when they aren’t their own species and rainbows emerge from nasty storms.

What makes anything real? Flaws, imperfections and vulnerabilities.

Flaws….cracks….resiliency….strength…that’s the real deal. Authenticity requires vulnerability and the result isn’t perfect but I’ll take flaws over “perfect” any day. When we allow our flaws to be seen, we show we are human; our vulnerabilities soften us and that softening effect is what makes us real. Only through softening will we become strong. The concept of perfection is idealistic and detached. When we’re strong enough to be vulnerable we open ourselves up to connections with everyone else. Perfection will never accomplish that, it cannot compete with vulnerable authenticity.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the renowned Buddhist teacher said,
           “the only true elegance is vulnerability”.

We have a long way to go and we will get there when we stop trying to be perfect.

Thanks for reading,
~ Haven

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