365 Grateful: the illusion of perfection

365-02-24-2015I’m in the midst of a workshop. Participants are huddled in small groups working on a task, and time’s up. “OK, go ahead and take your seats,” I say. “Wherever you are is perfect.”

I hear myself say the words and I cringe a bit. What I mean is this: “don’t stress if you have less than the team to the right or left of you. Whatever you have is enough.” So why don’t I just say that? Instead, I pull out the “perfect” word. Sigh.

I think it’s because the illusion of perfection has been woven into our society and beaten into our heads. If you don’t believe it, just look at any doctored, air-brushed photograph in any fashion magazine. We’re spoon fed images that are impossibly unrealistic. We’re encouraged to wear this, color our hair like that, use makeup A, B, or C to hide flaws, and pay big bucks for surgery to mask the normal, natural signs that show the world (and ourselves): oh-my-God-we’re-aging! We have breakdowns when life isn’t what we picture in our heads. We divorce spouses because they aren’t quite perfect enough for us. We wait for our perfect match, our soul mate.

Recently, I listened to an interview by author Kelly Corrigan with writer Anne Lamott on Medium Forward. (Go here to listen. It’s 20 minutes of marvelous.)

What Lamott said toward the end illustrated perfectly (yeah, there’s that word again) the problem. She’s in the process of explaining how she became obsessed with needing a neck lift, so she visited a prominent cosmetic surgeon. The surgeon’s words go like this:

“‘See, if we do this [mini-necklift], it makes your face crease up, so that’s why people get the mini-face lift when they get the necklift…. And then if you get the mini facelift, it makes your eyes so much more wrinkled and … the thing is, Anne, you have such expressive eyes.’

“He told me the thing that this culture is so starved for and lacking — he told me the truth.”

Perfect. Absolutely perfect. I’m grateful for such down-to-earth wisdom, and the realization that we all — ALL — sometimes fall for the illusion of perfection.

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