Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the magic of perfection

I'm rereading Providence by Daniel Quinn, who is one of my favorite authors. (His website is Here's a bit that stuck out for me as he describes his childhood:
But of course I couldn't be them [idk: his parents] or force them to behave the way I wanted them to. I was in the same relation to them as the ancient rainmaker was to the elements. All I could do was produce in myself the effects I wanted my parents to manifest. All I could do was make myself perfect, the way I wanted them to be.

That then was my magic, to be perfect. It didn't work, of course, but no one in the whole history of the world ever quit on anything just because it didn't work-- magic, science, politics, love, religion. But especially magic. To give up on magic because it doesn't work would be silly. If it doesn't work, that just means you didn't do it right. That's how you tell you didn't do it right--when it doesn't work.

Anyone knows that. (Quinn pg 26-27)
I understand this, having struggled with a desire for perfection myself, and having struggled with people struggling with perfectionism. If I'm not there yet, it's just because I'm doing something wrong.

I'm trying to teach myself that though I should definitely work as hard as I am able and continue to push my limits, the perfectionist worldview is complete and utter bullshit. The point of being alive is to grow. If you don't need to grow, you might as well die. And if I think less of myself because I don't excel at everything - school, work, people, love, taking care of myself - it will be harder to grow and be happy and be satisfied with myself.

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