This week my friend Natalie and I were on the phone talking about perfectionism because we really wanted to reduce our anxiety and issues around our tendencies toward being perfect. My desire to work on this was mainly in response to reading the book Selfie by Will Storr. Culture today, with all its self-help books, podcasts, classes and all the reality "game" shows on the air seeking the most perfect singer, clothes designer, cook, survivor on some island of woebegones, has resulted only in a sad mess of narcissism. Well, that's not everybody, but it's a lot of us.
Some people are driven by their negative self-loathing voices. I'm not that person. I'm driven by the high of doing something perfectly, like Mary Poppins. Early model.
I'm that guy who will polish the silver appliances and faucets before a diner party. My house is a mess until the diner party, but everything must sparkle and be a full-sensory adventure of amazing-ness for my friends. It becomes controlling and ridiculous, with all due respect to Mary Poppins. I don't imagine I'm going to stop doing this but I'd like to tone it down.
But even our drive to reduce our perfectionism seeks to do it perfectly. It's a hard habit to break. You see it when people first try to meditate and are convinced they're doing it wrong.
I'm trying to acclimate to the idea that I'm a mess of imperfections in many tragic areas and these issues may not be resolved in my lifetime. I may end this life without having fixed my imperfections. And that's okay.
The Prompt: Waiting
This week's prompt:
"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
- Zen Proverb
First task is to sit for a meditation on that for 5-10 minutes or however long you feel is good to you.
...inspired by my drawing:
The wood of knowledge
on the throne of readiness:
the cusp of blooming.
But giving up on perfectionism is not the same thing as giving up on yourself, giving up on growth and being better. It's just giving up control of when and how that happens. Another thing you can't control is when your epiphanies will come, when you will get those enlightened moments. I hate to use the word patience but it does involve waiting. A better goal is to forget the whole idea of self-improvement on a set schedule. If you relax into your life and take things as they comes, the teacher does appear.