The Art of Perfection

August 10, 2018

 

 Photo by Viktoria Sotsugov

 

Perfection is an art that requires concentration and dedication. Many times the process is tumultuous. Nonetheless, the end result is elation; if we place the concept of perfection in the right perspective. It’s much like baking a cake. You mix the ingredients, pour the mixture into baking pans and place them in the oven. The probable result? Uneven layers and a little too dark on the top, but still edible. You cover the cake with frosting and perhaps add a few decorations. Now, it looks perfect! Even imperfections can appear perfect. I like baking sweet potato pies during the Christmas holiday season. My pies are always a little brown or bumpy on top but once you take a bite, uhm... pure perfection!

 

On the other hand, machines are capable of perfecting things impossible to do by hand alone like creating a perfect circle or cutting a perfect piece of wood. Nonetheless, the type of perfection I’m referring to is more aesthetic. “Perfection is motivated by imperfections leading to a perfection of inner serenity and achievement.” In other words, you’ve done your best and that’s good enough. The words “it’s not perfect but perfect for right now” comes to mind.

 

I came across an interesting article on the site WhatDadCooked about perfection and Japanese culture. The article states: “Japanese cultural behavior is steeped in ancient Japanese traditions. One of these traditions – a favorite of the business schools – is the concept of kaizen, which is difficult to translate but pretty much means “to seek continual improvement.” It focuses on eliminating defects while simultaneously working towards superior means of functioning the various aspects of our lives. Kaizen is often recognized in Japanese culture. For example, sushi, origami, bonsai or ikabana, the art of flower arranging, are revealed in the meticulous skills used in Japanese culture to create beautiful ‘wagashi’ confectionery served with tea.”

 

In my view, the article clarifies a specific dimension of perfection that is conscientiously integrated into the very core of Asian culture. Perfection is no stranger to the Japanese way of life. And even though the path to perfection is arduous, they believe it's no excuse for not trying. This is not only in reference to material accomplishments, but our spiritual journey as well. Perfecting our character in a way that uplifts the Soul is just as/or even more invaluable.

 

The piece titled The Japanese Art of Kintsugi:Perfection Through Imperfection focuses more on the western concept of perfection.

 

“In Japanese philosophy there exists the idea of “wabi-sabi,” the act of embracing the flawed or the imperfect. When kintsugi is used to mend together broken pottery, the cracks are highlighted, rather than hidden.

 

 

In western society marks of superficial imperfections are shunned. Blemishes and age marks are removed with cosmetic surgery. Countless cosmetic skin treatments flood the market. Perfection is an absolute must.

 

This mentality even pervades our food. GMO produce is engineered in labs to be as large, colorful, and overall aesthetically pleasing as possible. Despite that, to the discerning eye something about this form of “perfection” appears off.

 

Relentlessly we are told we need a new mobile phone, car, clothes, everything-and-anything to stay connected to the transient perfection of the moment and keep the consumer juggernaut rolling. All the while, an infinitesimal of importance is placed upon inner spiritual growth. This predicament stirs up many contradictions, thereby complicating our daily lives forcing us to bypass the deeper significance of many of our day-to-day interactions. We become mentally fatigued. This hollowed complexity creates a cycle that leaves us longing for something more.

 

Take a look at the variety of quotes from the site art-quotes I posted below. The citations focus on the concept of perfection. I've also provided my analysis with each quote.

 

"It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are the more gentle and quiet we become towards the defects of others." (Joseph Addison)

My Take: This simply means the wiser we are, the less critical we should be of others. Our work is always with ourselves.

 

"I am nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect." (Anonymous)

My Take: What a wonderful quote filled with humor and a perfect play on words.

 

"We like the imperfect because it reminds us of ourselves. "(Randy Bachman)

My Take: Yes, a person of compassion and wisdom understands the folly of human nature.

 

"To do better is better than to be perfect." (Toba Beta)

My Take: Of course, doing better means continued growth. If you believe you are already perfect (and none of us are), then where's the room for improvement?

 

"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing."(Harriet B. Braiker)

My Take: Striving to be a perfect human being is unending; however, striving for excellence keeps things in perspective.

 

"Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up." (Joseph Campbell)

My Take: As perfection is complete in itself what more is there to do? Yet, the process of perfection requires eradication in order to discover hidden flaws that necessitate perfecting.

 

"Perfection is perfectly simple; fouling things up requires true skill." (Douglas Horton)

My Take: Creation is perfect and there's nothing much for humans to do but to enjoy it. Trying to improve on what's already perfect is futile. 

 

"We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly." (Sam Keen)

My Take: Wise individuals see clearly the faults of others but won't use it against them. They would rather keep away from the individual rather than humiliate them or bring themselves down to the level of foolery.

 

"Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished." (Chinese proverb)

My Take: How many authors have gone or go through this experience?

 

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away"(Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

My Take: This quote is perfect!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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