Perfection scares me. I am afraid of never reaching perfection; yet, I am horrified at the idea of coming close. Nevertheless, I continue to believe in this thing called perfection, making it more than a notion or theory. I breathe life into it, giving it sustenance as it sucks my own strength away.
Not long ago, I was told my great-grandmother’s motto. A witness to the Great Depression, her life revolved around raising children and trying to stay afloat. She intended to perfect the art of work output, meal rationing, and cultivating grateful, useful children. After I heard her steely words, my life – here and now, seems to make more sense. My great-grandmother, whose blood courses through my veins, explained matter-of-factly to her children, “You may as well not eat today if you didn’t work today.”
Throughout his seventies, my grandfather imitated a navy seal. Each day, he completed his 100 push-ups and 200 crunches, jogging the same five miles, keeping the same dignified pace. Decades had passed since his defined physique was needed; yet, he would not release his grip on something so highly recommended, something that promised flawless strength.
My father, another one of my generous DNA donators, attempts to duplicate Tiger Woods’ golf swing at the age of fifty-two. He golfs six times per week during the season and practices at home when not on the course. No one is pushing him to succeed. Nothing would change with the achievement of a perfect game. Even still, with a supposedly relaxing leisure activity, he is troubled by an urge for faultlessness. Waking at four in the morning, he gets in a quick jaunt at work so as to hit the greens at the correct time, never late for his 3:26 p.m. tee time.
But, times have changed. I eat without being given permission by a mother. I can only complete ten “real” push-ups, and I do not even like golf – all of which must be a testament to my dissimilarity with my predecessors. However, I do not want to give the wrong impression. I am not a wanderer or floozy devoid of beliefs.
I believe carrots should be eaten in groups of nine, according to serving size. All students should treasure the phrase egregia cum laude. Eight hours of sleep should be attained – eight and a half hours is for lushes and seven and a half for insomniacs. Presentation of self, in pressed and color-coordinated clothes, shoes, and accessories (from color-coordinated hangers) should be upheld and adhered to.
Yet – yet…I wonder if it is possible that dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” is an error in itself. I grapple with whether the Type-A+ way of life is not the type of life that I want to lead. So, it just might be that…I believe my great-grandmother, grandfather, dad, and I are all imperfect for believing in this thing called perfection. Nevertheless, generation after generation, we pass down this family heirloom.
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