My youngest son (4 years old) passed the weight test to climb the 24 foot rock wall at the Atlanta Zoo (40 lb. minimum) the day before yesterday and he made a bee line for the top, rang the bell and belayed down. He never hesitated, he remained focused on the goal and he never relinquished control of his body, mind or heart. I can say without qualification that he was perfect, absolutely perfect in that moment!
Speaking of the “p” word, I find it curious that the mere idea of perfection tends to freak most people out. Those who see perfection as tenable are branded as snobs, idealists or arrogant, while those who are convinced of its impossibility possess the perfect excuse for explaining away every failure under the sun.
The idea that human nature is flawed and that human beings are imperfect is one that proponents of science and religion are drawn to like moths to a flame. In religious circles, there is general agreement that we were once “good” but due to an unfortunate and willful bad decision we became sinners in need of salvation. In scientific circles, the notion that perfection is our birthright is blasphemy because we are evolving from our humble beginnings as self-reproducing RNA toward an ever better, more complex future, albeit one that is likely riddled with chaos and imperfection.
It’s hard to mention perfection without also thinking of a remarkable man who walked the earth some 2,000 years ago, a man who has been in many people’s thoughts ever since. He, more than just about anyone else in the centuries that followed, taught that perfection was possible and available to all who sought it. While his teachings were organized and at times rather tragically twisted into religions and codes of behavior by those who were inspired by his wisdom, I do suggest that anyone who longs to live a creative life spend a little time reviewing the observations on life attributed to him.
At a certain point in his life he was purported to make the injunction: “Be ye therefore perfect…”, an electrifying and polarizing commandment that proved an unpopular thing to say to those living on earth at the time. The shock wave produced by that notion has haunted the consciousness of man for nearly two thousand years, leaving a freshly pressed impression on the minds of men that begs the question from generation to generation: “Is perfection possible?”
I believe that it is. Allow me to explain. For starters, perfection is not what most people think it is. It is not static, fixed, unchanging; neither is it passionless, sterile or detached from the quotidian affairs of men. Instead, it is dynamic, fluid, malleable, commodious, energetic and peaceful. Perfection is a floating band of possibilities, not a linear path of all-or-nothing choices. No matter what you believe or don’t believe in, the stand you take on perfection determines the impact you will have on the world through your living.
Why would one of the most remarkable human beings to grace this planet issue such a command if perfection were not possible? To mock us? To give us something to aim for to keep us off the streets? No! He believed and revealed – from what I can see through the lens of history – that perfection is available to each one.
It can be challenging to see through the matrix of concepts, opinions and beliefs that shroud the perfection revealed at that time and non-religious people often mistakenly throw the baby out with the bath water by saying that religion is bunk and therefore what he offered is not worthy of consideration. But if you take a close look, it’s hard not to leave room for the possibility that just about everyone in the world today has it wrong. How specifically? Well, the widely accepted and chanted mantra: “nobody’s perfect” couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Such mistakes have happened before, haven’t they? Just because the majority believes it to be a certain way, doesn’t mean it is so. No amount of human opinion can overturn the reality of the situation, for logic that proceeds from a faulty premise is flawed, no matter how elegant the structure formed thereby.
Well then, what are the options? As I understand it at this point in my life, the options are as follows:
- Refuse to believe that perfection is possible. Claim that “nobody’s perfect” – not you, not me, not anybody – and declare the case dismissed. The options with this choice are: (a) pick apart anyone who comes close. Destroy them if necessary or (b) strive for progress but never perfection.
- Believe that perfection is possible but only for a God or gods in human flesh. “They can do it but I cannot really be expected to.” The options at that point are: (a) don’t even bother trying, (b) make a half-hearted attempt, for it is better to die a failure than to never have tried or (c) accept the idea that you can get a free pass somehow without doing the work yourself.
- Believe that perfection is possible for anyone and everyone given the proper education. Learn the keys to wisdom – that uncommon sensitivity to the right choice in any situation – and unlock the door to perfection in the circumstances that come your way.
The refusal to accept the possibility of perfection – here and now – is the perfect way to guarantee mediocrity. If perfection is not possible, then so too is:
- Being in the right place at the right time
- Doing the right thing at the right time
- Saying the right thing at the right time (le mot juste)
Why not take a stand on this issue? Why not rise to the call that has echoed through the ages and accept the responsibility for the expression of perfection? You needn’t adhere to one religion or another to be open to the possibility of perfection and the fact that you deny its possibility doesn’t make you scientific.
I have a hunch that we’ve made it much harder for ourselves that we need to, much as an “experienced” adult would let his fears, doubts and convictions stand in the way of climbing a rock wall without hesitation, in the pure and unencumbered fashion of a 4 year old. “Well,” you say “life’s just not that simple.”
Well, maybe you’re right. If you are convinced that perfection is not possible, it is unlikely that you’ll do what is required to reveal it consistently. Conversely, admitting that it is possible is the first and most important step in the process that leads to its consistent revelation in and through you.