There's an interesting article in the NY Times today about the notion of perfection entitled: "Perfection Is Afterthought, Perfect Examples Say." (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/03/sports/football/03perfect.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1)
The New England Patriots have won all 18 games they've played this year as they enter today's Superbowl, a "perfect" season thus far. But is it?
“There is no perfect season,” said John Wooden, who coached the U.C.L.A. basketball teams that once won 88 consecutive games. “You can have a season where you win all your games. But that is far from perfect. The other teams you played scored points and your team made mistakes. Maybe a lucky bounce actually won you a game or two. No, winning doesn’t make you perfect.”
Other famous athletes who have attained perfect scores and achieved record-breaking feats of greatness in their sport are also quoted in the article. Most agree that thinking about perfection or breaking records actually interferes with performance.
Winning doesn't make you perfect? I love that! Why? Because perfection, in the way most people think about it, is an illusion, and perfectionism is a crippling defense mechanism that actually prevents someone from achieving even reasonable goals or experiencing even minimal levels of fulfillment.
In reality, perfection is a place we're always heading towards, but never attaining, or conversely, it is the ongoing state of things already, depending on the way you want to frame it. In other words, because we're always evolving, because we're living beings, and therefore never static, anything that we accomplish today in the course of our evolution only sets the bar higher for another achievement tomorrow. Yet, also by virtue of the fact that we are alive, and as such are exact representations in physical form of our soul's intentions, we are already perfect in that we are exactly what we are designing to be in each moment. (Or as John Lennon put it: "Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.")
Perfectionism, then, is a covert way of resisting the very thing one is trying to accomplish, and/or it is an expression of the resistance to feeling gratified by what one actualy does accomplish. (Does anyone know a happy perfectionist?) Put another way, an obsessive insistance on perfection is a way of not giving, a withholding of one's gifts. It is a passive-aggressive act. The perfectionist will say things like: I can't serve our friends this meal, or present this work of art to the world, because my creation isn't good enough yet. Or I can't go to your party because I don't have a suitable outfit to wear, or I can't take my clothes off in front of you and make love with you because I'm out of shape physically. In other words, perfectionism is a disguised way of saying: "No!" No, I'm not going to give of myself to you. No, I'm not going to share my gifts with you. Etc. And that "no" is all too often disguised under the very annoying and false self-effacement of: I'm not good enough, or what I have to offer isn't good enough. Ugh! Get over it. Good enough is good enough! Give something to someone already. If it's from your heart, if it's a genuine expression of your desire to give, it will be of value to the recipient. Can you improve the recipe for that dish? Rewrite that screenplay one more time? Lose a little weight? Sure. And you will. And those changes will always occur over time according to your intentions in the moment.
You're a living, vibrant, fluid, always in flux human being. Don't let that stop you from offering yourself to others. There is no one else like you. No one else has your perspective on life, your confluence of experiences and ideas and imagination. No one else has your body, and I can tell you, your body is already beautiful and perfect the way it is... if you say it is.
And remember, whether it's the Giants or the Patriots today... it's just a game!