After publicly referring to a server member as perfect earlier in the server, I feel I probably ought to clarify what I mean when I use that word.
I have a pretty specific definition in mind when I use the word perfect. It is one that has evolved greatly over time, and has only recently become part of what I would call more of a living knowledge….but I trace my thoughts on the subject back to high school.
I loved being in band. Some of my best friends – most of them, really – were band kids, and I also considered our later band teacher to be a good friend of mine.
I was pretty decent at reading sheet music. It was something I knew, something I was confident in. Something safe.
But improvisation? Jazz band?
Terrified the shit out of me.
That required theoretical knowledge that I simply did not have.
Did not have the confidence to learn.
I hated the feeling of being on the spot, and not measuring up, so much that I actually didn’t join the jazz band my second year. Or third year? Can’t remember.
One year I was in it, and the next year I was not.
But I was such a part of that group of people, wanted to be such a part of them- that I still went on the jazz band trips with them!
I was, like, the jazz band groupie. It was weird and probably a little sad, but still pretty fun.
There are other examples that went into my eventual realization about mistakes, which led to me shifting my thoughts on perfection, but that is the most salient one.
I eventually realized that I did not think less of others when they made the kinds of mistakes that are part of the learning process.
How else are we supposed to learn how to do anything?
I don’t know about you guys, but I have never been the kind of person who does anything flawlessly, the first time.
What I consider to be a mistake with more of a negative connotation (though that is technically an inaccurate thing to say, for a number of reasons which I will go into whenever I make it back to that topic) are more like the Wide Eyed Stupid kinds of mistakes.
The things I do despite knowing beforehand that I shouldn’t.
Anyway. More on that later.
Throughout this time in high school, I began thinking about the concept of perfection.
How it didn’t make sense to me to have an idealized goal in mind which was literally unachievable.
Because if we’re always learning new things, then we are always going to be going through that process of making mistakes, as we learn.
If my definition of perfect is that I can make no mistakes, I can never be perfect.
So I decided to change my definition instead of settling for one I could never reach.
Perfection, to me, in this moment of time, is:
Did I do the best I could do, in any given moment, given the information I had at hand?
Did I expend reasonable effort to research, if I did not have enough information?
If things didn’t go as I had hoped, – as I predicted, why not?
If they did, why?
In whatever case- did I then endeavor to draw a broader lesson, to guide my decisions in future situations which may bear similarities with, but are not identical to, the one in question?
This goes into the TBF (Tricksy Brain Factor) I talked about somewhere else on here.
Because thinking about things after they happen is not enough.
I can only reasonably overcome my own brain’s tendency to interpret things through an emotional filter- if I take the time before I do or say anything to think about what I think the result will be. Then, when I analyze the results later, I can be more confident that my brain is not simply retroactively sort of saying “Oh, yeah! Totally knew that was gonna happen. That was obvious” when really, it may not have been what I would have predicted had I done so prior to the event/whatever.
That process has been particularly vital in my own attempts to uncover some of the more insidious sort of self-deceptions I’ve held over time, and continues to be so – though that will also need to be approached in more detail in another channel.
Life is already hard enough. Why give ourselves anything less than a fighting chance at this game, by defining ideals of being human in ways that are distinctly not humanly possible?
We cannot be human and never make mistakes.
So, perfect, to me- means not letting the mistakes I make stop me from continuing to try to be a better person.