It’s Good to Resist Perfection

A Catholic priest, working in the addiction field, said during a workshop “the good is the enemy of the perfect.” Many of us were  brought up with this same belief to constantly seek moral and behavioral perfection, and to be harsh with ourselves when we inevitably fail at it. Yet, some of us continue to strive on to the detriment of our hearts, minds, and connections to others. Others of us take our failures at perfection as evidence that there is no good at all in the world!

I want to resist this notion! I believe the erroneous idea of perfection is in reality the enemy of what is truly good about life! Some of us misidentify this idea of perfection with feeling satisfied, which is indeed possible as part of the natural cycle of our bodies and minds experiencing something rewarding, then returning to our emotional baseline. With the belief we should be perfect, there is an additional let down that is painful and seems to be evidence that we are being cheated by the gods, or are “failures”, or that life is inherently empty of meaning or value! Some “spiritual” practices based on this teach that we should relinquish experiences of pleasure, desire, and satisfaction, so as to not be in pain.  

What helps me through these kinds of let downs, rather than suppressing feelings, is that life continues to present me with gifts like my flowers, my colorful house, walks in the woods, and my amusing and affectionate cat! Even more so, experiencing others, like Sherree, love me in and through my sojourns through various purgatories and hells has revealed the Good to me! Reconnecting with the experience of unconditional love in my heart and to the web of life through my stumbling prayers, meditations, and other practices is to experience the wonder and mystery of the Good, truly perfect in its imperfection! 

~Daniel Bailey

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2 Responses to It’s Good to Resist Perfection

  1. Lisa says:

    Daniel, what a beautiful reflection! I am a recovering perfectionist, and it took me a long time to realize how paralyzing the desire for perfection was in my life.

  2. katrina yurko says:

    The notion of striving for perfection has always been an “issue” with me. My sister is a perfectionist. She will always gravitate to the speck of dirt left on the windshield or the only weed left in the garden. What a Life! What a shame! I have long since our youth stopped showing her my art , inviting her to my house, cooking for her…… Like you stated above, the idea of perfection exists only as an idea, it is erroneous because it can’t translate into real life untainted by some micro inconsistency or cast shadow.
    I’m with you on this, the stumbling through, the hiccups, the weed in the garden…so long as we can see the beauty in the good, who needs Perfection!!!

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