I belong to the cult of perfection. I want to be perfect. Always. I hate any shortcomings in any of my pursuits. I compare myself to Photoshopped models and elite athletes. I don’t measure up. I compare myself to experts in many fields and find myself lacking. It’s enough to make one just give up. And that is the horror of the cult of perfection that I’ve been dealing with for many years now.

I wasn’t perfect even before I began CrossFit but it wasn’t rubbed in my face so often. I could sit in my comfort zone and know that I was “good enough” perhaps. At least my mistakes weren’t put on display for all to see. I was privately losing.

What I was losing at the most was – life. I was afraid to try because I would certainly fail. There is no other way to begin but by failing.

Anyone who has ever watched a baby learn to walk knows that it is all just one failure after another. The baby teeters after letting go of some support until PLOP, right on his diapered butt. But he doesn’t quit. He pulls himself up and balances and lets go and PLOP. Over and over until he sways there next to coffee table. Then, tentatively, one leg comes off the ground and PLOP. Damn. Not this again.

Eventually the baby learns to stand, balance on one foot, move the other foot forward and repeat. And that is how to learn to walk. Failure after failure. After failure. Again and again. Failure. But humans are resilient creatures and the baby doesn’t quit. Walking is so important that plopping on one’s butt uncounted times is worth it. When do we lose that?

When do we learn that perfection at the outset is what is needed? What sort of madness is this? Who is perfect ever? Especially at the beginning of a new adventure. Every two year old knows she can dance around the younger kid just learning to walk. Why does that two year old believe that every other venture in life doesn’t demand the same perseverance and determination in order to succeed? And that – get this – even when successful, you will fail.

Part of humanity is imperfection. No one is perfect. Repeat after me. No. One. Is. Perfect. There is no such thing as perfection. It is an ideal or a goal, but an unattainable one. Leonardo da Vinci couldn’t stop painting the Mona Lisa because it was not yet perfect. Have you ever looked at the picture and thought to yourself how far he missed the mark? Or do you appreciate the beauty we mere observers find?

There is no such thing as perfection. What we need to teach our children, and perhaps learn ourselves in the process, is that we want to be good enough. Do what you can and rejoice in the effort. Learn from mistakes but don’t stop making them. When you no longer are making any mistakes, you aren’t making anything else, either.

Stumble along in your life, sampling all there is to be had, making mistakes along the way and becoming imperfect in all aspects of your life. Correct what you can. Learn from the past. But don’t put the ridiculous pressure of perfection on yourself or anyone else. It isn’t there. Perfect is godliness and we are just simple humans.

The ideal is out there and you work toward it as best you can. You learned to walk and that was no easy feat. Don’t be beaten back, afraid to try anything else. Take a chance. Step outside your comfort zone.

Someday, I’m going to learn to float the bar and fall under it in a perfect clean. Then on the next rep, I’m not going to hit it. That’s the way it works. Even if I get to a place where each pull is done correctly, I will get lazy and fall out of the sanctioned pull. Or there could be more weight on the bar. Or any other number of variables that will make transitory perfection less perfect. And I will have to be human and strive to improve. And know that I have.

Perfection is a glimpse of what might be. It isn’t a beginning. It isn’t long-term. It isn’t part of the human condition. But bravery is. We all learned to walk.

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