Perfect: a blank page in an unfinished book

by Rebecca A. Watson on August 14, 2011

in judgment, life, love, priorities, reflection, writing

One of my best friends Johanna has said some of the most quotable things. Just today I was going through a journal and found a sentence from her: “The recession has hit my sex life.”  She always say things that make you think twice.

One thing in particular that has stuck with me she’s said is, “Perfect is boring.”

In theory, I agree. But it was always such an abstract concept for me. In the past year or so, I’ve also been very into the Cult of Done, which has saved me hours of agonizing over my work as a writer and artist.


Cult of Done

If you’ll notice, No. 8 says “Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.” I definitely agree, but being the perfectionist that I am, it was still hard to accept. Why is perfection boring?

It wasn’t until this weekend when I was admiring the empty pages of my journal that I finally got it. To me, the empty page beckons me. It’s beautiful. Perfect, even.

Unmarked. No mistakes. Just clean and crisp, ready for anything. I even said the word outloud. “Perfect.”

Then I thought, “Yeah but how long would this hold your attention? Is it really all that exciting? Nope. Even as a writer, I can only stare at a blank page for so long before I long to mar it with my madness.

I wrote all over the pages and then looked at them. Mistakes. Ink smeared. But captivating.

What I came to realize finally when I was able to conceptualize it, is that perfection is not only boring, it’s fleeting.  You can’t hold onto it. It really doesn’t exist for more than a few moments. Then it makes way for mistakes, fantastic stories, and love.

As much as I enjoy the feeling of crossing everything off of my to-do list (or as I like to call it, my DONE list) and hitting all the marks on my insanely high list of expectations, the feeling doesn’t last. It’s a cheap high, really.

Because inevitably I will trade in my visit to the gym for a few hours at the beach or skip my early morning writing session in order to read my book in bed. I can’t hold onto that feeling of perfection any more than I can leave a piece of paper blank.

Coincidentally, I’ve been introduced to wabi sabi, which is the art of loving the imperfections in life and embracing authenticity. We’ll see how it goes. It’s not that I want to banish my inner-perfectionist, I just want to take her down a notch, you know?

What about you? Are you a perfectionist? Do you embrace it or are you trying to balance it?

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