Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Perfection is not a useful comparison

A beautiful morning here in Seattle: sun! I think it's going to turn out to be one of those lost days where I sit about in a haze of post-pleasure with no discernible brain activity. I'm very lucky to have the kind of schedule where I can do that now and again (especially if I've planned for it, which I have). At some point this afternoon I'll have to kick into gear: Hild is waiting and I have a Skype interview (for a podcast--more on that another time). But I have hours yet. On my agenda: tea in the sun, with a couple of champagne truffles, and the last of the M.R. James ghost stories.

We've also had one of those interesting weeks (so far--the week is still young) full of half-news. Nothing we can take to the bank, yet, but the world, like an overfull glass, is trembling with possibility. I'm sitting here with an idiot grin. I do mean 'idiot'. I think I have the IQ of a four year-old today: one of the perils of extreme satiation.

Lately, I've been thinking of the way people approach life and how one can draw a comparison between world stance and reviews. The most miserable people are not those who, from my (admittedly outside) perspective, have the most difficult lives. No, the gloomy, po-faced people of the world are those who are never satisfied. They look for the lead lining. They look gift horses in the mouth. They find fault with everything. Essentially, they compare what they have, or what they feel, not with normality or ordinariness but with perfection.

The thing is, nothing is perfect. Anything you hold up to perfection--a life (even a really fine life), a moment, a sandwich--will fare badly by comparison. Nothing is perfect. It's a concept that should be struck off the books, retired. (Sort of like the concept of infinity but, eh, that's a discussion for another time when my IQ has climbed back to the dizzy realm of three figures.) So when you read that great book, don't complain about the saggy bit in the middle, especially if there's only one. When you watch that fab film, don't whinge about the eye-rolling stupidity of the plot point in Act Three if you're having a blast the rest of the time. When you eat the delicious duck, don't point out that the tomato accompanying it is not your favourite fruit. Enjoy what you can, when you can. Figure out what delights you, and allow yourself to be pleased. Revel in it.

Later, sure, figure out how to do it better or get more. Nothing wrong with improvement. But while you're in it, enjoy it. Don't constantly hold things up to an ideal, or you'll make yourself crazy; you'll become one of the Perpetually Disappointed. Life is good. It's just not perfect.

That's all. Time for tea.

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