The subject of perfection emerged in the commentary section of my last blog. This is a BIG one! I think it is one of the biggest obstacles to creating and enjoying the process. We are so afraid that our creation won’t look good or measure up that we’d rather not even try. Or we start, are anxious in the process and at the first sign of trouble, abort the mission. And then we further criticise ourselves for giving up and for not making art. It can be a vicious cycle.
I wondered if over time we had somehow altered the original meaning of the word and took a look at an online dictionary.
the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
“the satiny perfection of her skin”
a person or thing perceived as the embodiment of perfection.
“I am told that she is perfection itself”
the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.
“among the key tasks was the perfection of new mechanisms of economic management”
It seems pretty ironic that freedom is used in relation to perfection or what we more often speak of – the trait of perfectionism. If anything, it feels like a restrictive prison. So defects are bondage and perfection sets you free. Good luck with that one!
A state, action or process
I do like that it is considered to be a state, which implies that it can (and will) shift. And it can be an action or process, which suggests that it is incomplete and changeable. Now that feels more free!
Perfection can only be defined in relation to things – experiences, objects, etc. We might compare two objects or experiences, and based on assigned values determine that one is better than the other.
And perhaps perfection is a pleasing outcome based on a specific objective e.g. we need to design a specific mechanism that needs to function with high precision. Wow, we achieved that. It works. Perfect! But is it? No doubt someone will come along to criticise and/or suggest improvements, and it will someday become redundant.
A momentary state of bliss
Or we create the perfect event. People are enjoying delicious food and music, surrounded by those they love. It’s a moment you wish you could inhabit forever… Perfect! And then it shifts.
Perfection is not universally and precisely defined, nor bound in time.
Define your own desired outcome for a moment in time
So when you next approach a blank page or canvas…or whatever, pause and define your measurable outcome for now. “I just want to spend 30 minutes mindlessly drawing anything.” Done. Perfect! “I want to smear paint around with my fingers and enjoy the oozing sensation.” Done. Perfect! “I’m going to really try my best to capture this specific lighting effect.” Done. Perfect! “I’m going to spend 3 hours on this painting and see how it turns out.” Done. Perfect! You get the idea…?
You ARE free! Run wild!
As an example, I declare my artwork for this post perfect! (And I laugh because I know millions will disagree.) I decided that it would be done quickly, within 5 minutes, with no fuss. I had my concept and I just did it. And when it was done it was perfect. My intention was to purposefully create an artwork that could ironically be considered the antithesis of perfection. And so it is.
Does the word perfection exist in your language?
I’m always intrigued when certain words don’t exist in another language because it indicates that the associated concept or perspective is not part of how that society functions.
In a later blog post I want to chat about what the opposite of perfection is not… What do you think that could be?
Another question to consider: After analysing all of this, does it help you? Possibly not. And that’s why I turn to the body and spiritual practices because that’s where the shifts happen. I will be speaking about this a lot more as we meander along in our creative flow.