on being perfect

‘Perfection is achieved when there is nothing left to take away’.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

These words strike me as being very true. In life generally and especially in writing. It’s not simply a matter of ‘less is more’ but of having just the right words. I want to choose the essential and most suitable words to say what I mean. And no more.

This may be why my posts are on the brief side. No, it’s quite precisely why. My process is quick and immediate. There’s not even a plan. I have no real expectations and no agenda. I think. I write. I share.

In the past, I would have planned, drafted and written. Then rewritten. There would have been self-judgement and criticism. The feeling that my writing wasn’t ‘good enough’. Andbit would be abandoned to become yet another ‘work-in-progress’.

Now, there is immediacy in self-expression. Now, there is no questioning the ‘good enough-ness’ of what I write. I simply write.

Of course, there is editing. I will fix an error, improve a word or adjust punctuation. But very often I’m removing words. There may be something redundant, or a word not suited to my intention. I’m not aiming for ‘perfection’ at all, but simply for the best I can do at that moment. That’s all I can do and it’s all I want.

‘And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good’

John Steinbeck

So  this is what I’m aiming for. To be good. And on some days, that means just being good enough …

Nothing is permanent

Nothing is complete

Nothing is perfect

When I think about perfectionism, I’m also reminded of the Japanese philosophy of 侘寂 (wabi-sabi). It values the idea of the impermanent, the incomplete, the imperfect. It values the elegance and beauty of simplicity.

If we can appreciate the ‘imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’ in others and in other things, then maybe we can allow this in ourselves. To release the pressure of perfectionism and just ‘be’. And to just be our best. Whatever that might mean 🤍

3 thoughts on “on being perfect

  1. As a perfectionist I can relate to this. I can spend so much time preparing work. Writing and rewriting, constantly editing. I’m never finished. The Japanese philosophy you mentioned seems like a possibly good approach, but difficult to change … to stop pushing for perfect

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Brenda. I understand completely. I’ve spent a lifetime as a perfectionist (and procrastinator!). For me, it took a change of self rather than a new process or mindset. Just last year. But that’s a whole other story 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Always great intro quotes you have, Amanda. I agree with the first one not just for writing, but for life itself. Sometimes it’s not about what we add to our lives, but what we take away. Mostly vices. We have so many vices that do nothing for us (not even make us happy), and once we remove those, we’ll be so much freer to pursue our true purpose. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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