9.8

Perfection is a lofty goal. It can be a driving force behind musicians and athletes, chefs and auto designers, wood-workers and surgeons. The pursuit keeps us focused. Of course, it can also consume us, which is somewhat tragic, since perfection can be such a subjective thing.

One’s perfectly-played Chopin Nocturne is another’s dreadful and unimaginative rendition of the same. One’s perfect soufflé is lost on another who prefers a cheeseburger and fries.

Still, we pursue perfection—not all of us, but many of us—in whatever endeavors we undertake. It gives us peace of mind and satisfaction, knowing that we’ve put forth our best effort.

Some abide by the mantra, “If I can’t do it well, then I won’t do it at all,” which sort of skips over the whole idea of practice and repetition and finding reinforcement through incremental improvement. Which in turn involves patience and a certain hope and desire, not to mention courage.

Garrison Keillor (I know, I know…) used to sign off each Writer’s Almanac installment with, “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” No mention of perfect work, in his typically understated manner.

There is a place for simply seeing that our heart is in whatever we do, in the name of self-betterment or building up others.

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