Friday, April 21, 2017

The Elusive Search for Impossible Perfection

I think we all do it, really, in some form or the other.  We search for perfection.  Some people dream of a perfect BODY – curves in all the right places and nary a wrinkle.  Some people hunt for the perfect mate – someone who fits every idealized fantasy they can imagine. 

Me – sometimes I catch myself running after the perfect EXPERIENCE…

I did it tonight, and when I realized what was happening, I had to laugh.

Here’s the deal – perfection doesn’t EXIST.  There is no perfect body, no perfect mate, no perfect family, no perfect house, or perfect life.  And there is no perfect experience

Have you ever tried to do that – ensure that you will have the perfect experience??  If you can look at it from the outside, from a bird’s eye view, you will see how utterly ridiculous it is.  How about this one: trying to make the PERFECT HOLIDAY!!  You buy the biggest, fullest Christmas tree.  You decorate it with gorgeous ornaments.  You bake the fanciest of cookies. You buy the very best gifts and wrap them with the most beautiful paper.  But it will not be PERFECT.  Someone will end up with the flu and have to stay in bed instead of opening presents.  The sweater you give to your uncle will be the wrong size.  One of your guests will be allergic to nuts and unable to eat what you prepared.  IT WON’T BE PERFECT, trust me!  I think that is one reason people get so stressed around the holidays – they want, no, they EXPECT everything to be perfect, and it never is!

Here is what happened one year when my partner David and I tried to give his mother the PERFECT Christmas, the Christmas we knew would be her last one on earth:
Instead of the artificial Christmas tree his parents owned and always used, we went and got a “perfect” one.  A live one, so that the house would smell of pine.  We set it up in the living room as his parents watched, wondering why we had wasted money on a tree when there was a good plastic one in the basement.  When it was decorated, David and I stepped back and marveled at the beauty.  Then we all went to bed and in the middle of the night heard a very loud CRASH as the tree, which had been so large we had to TIE IT with string to a curtain rod to hold it up (cuz bigger is better, more PERFECT, right???) CRASHED TO THE FLOOR.  The water from the tree stand leaked all over the hardwood floor and even stained it a bit.

Not to be derailed in our goal of a perfect last Christmas, we got a bunch of little brown paper bags and secretly made luminaries by cutting pretty shapes into the bags, putting in a bit of sand for weight, and putting tea light candles in each one.  When the coast was clear, we snuck into the front yard, put all the luminaries out, lit each candle so they would glow, rang the doorbell, then quickly hid from view!!!  As David’s mom opened the door, we quietly sang a lovely Christmas carol.  WHAT AN EXPERIENCE, RIGHT???  The snow, the luminaries glowing, our melodic (if slightly out of tune) voices serenading her…  Ahhhhh…  Her response??  “E-gads!  It is freezing out there!  Come inside, you are gonna catch cold!”.

A blurry (far less than perfect) photo of our failed attempt at the perfect last Christmas
Perfect, right?

Another time I remember that we (I guess it is “I” really, and David is willing to race alongside me) believed that if we tried hard enough, we would have the PERFECT EXPERIENCE was a sunset in Key West, Florida.  Everyone in Key West told us that a person “needed” to see sunset at Mallory Square.  I mean, Mallory Square was the place to watch the sunset.  From the sound of things, if you didn’t witness the sun set from Mallory Square, why, you were nothing and had wasted every penny you spent coming to the southernmost point of the United States!!!  So, “sunset at Mallory Square” went on my to do list, of course!!!  We had a busy day of fun, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking about the end goal, the perfect sunset, and watching the clock.   So, when it was almost time, we drove to the much hyped location. 

Only, everyone ELSE had gotten the memo, too, so parking was nowhere to be found…  We drove around and around and finally settled on a spot that was quite far away.  And you know what that means – A FOOT RACE TO GET TO SUNSET PERFECTION!!!!!  We took off (well, I took off, and David followed…).  I was not going to miss that sunset, damn it!!!  We raced down cute little streets, past adorable ice cream shops, with one goal in mind – P-E-R-F-E-C-T  S-U-N-S-E-T.  Of course, as we raced, the sun was doing its own racing… 

So, by the time we got to Mallory Square, there was only a tiny bit of sunset left. 

A tiny bit of SUNSET, but a LARGE MASS OF HUMANITY!  Everyone and their brother was there, making it impossible to see the sunset!!!

FOILED!

This is David.  At the legendary PERFECT SUNSET in Key West.  With every other tourist in the world.
Lucky for us, in situations like that we often see the humor instead of the sadness.  I mean, seriously, how many gorgeous sunsets have we seen in our lives already, what the hell made us think this one was going to be even more perfect than the others we had witnessed??? 

Sunset in Washington DC when the Washington Monument was covered in scaffolding - pretty!

Sunset in San Diego at Balboa Park - gorgeous!

Sunset in Tel Aviv - amazing!!!

Sunset at the Air Force Monument in DC - stunning
Sunset in KEY WEST, on the same vacation as the huge sunset failure described above:  beautiful,
but NOT in the PERFECT location of Mallory Park.  :) 
Anyway, I was reminded of this elusive search for impossible perfection on my walk tonight.  The reason I was reminded, not surprisingly, is that I had fallen into the trap again.  The last few years I have had a project to take one photograph of the same thing every day.  The first year I photographed my bed, whatever bed I woke up in, first thing in the morning*.  This year, I am shooting my HAND.  So, I brought my camera on a walk this evening to take today’s hand photo.  As soon as I stepped out the door I saw some gorgeous clouds with pink and orange light glowing behind them.  I knew I wanted THOSE to be the backdrop for my hand!!  Only, I wanted it to be perfect, see…  I didn’t want any roofs or electrical lines blocking the beauty…  So, I walked in the direction of the clouds.  I walked…  And walked…  All the while hunting for an unobstructed view to take this perfect hand photo with glowing clouds.

And, like in Key West, as I walked, the sun was setting, and the pink and orange colors were fading. 

There wouldn’t BE an unobstructed, perfect view.  Because this is REAL LIFE, and real life is not perfect

So, I stopped in the middle of the street.  I laughed out loud at this insane search for perfection.  And I put my dumb hand in the air and took a picture. 

There.  Photo for the day completed.  MY H AND.
I guess my point is – don’t waste your time trying to make things perfect.  In the end, the time will have been wasted and perfection will not have been found anyway.  ENJOY the pink clouds while they are there, because soon enough, the sun will set.  

(Link to the story and video of my first "Photo Everyday Project" - Bed a Day

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