What's so perfect about perfection

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, March 12, 2014 12:23 AM

Everyone has his or her own version of perfection; it’s individualized just like each of us. What I think defines perfection may not be what you think defines perfection which may not be what he thinks defines perfection or what she thinks defines perfection. The fact is, we know perfection when we see it, hear it, taste it, smell it or touch it. It’s intuitive.

The institutional idea of perfection is easy to define. It’s a condition, state or quality that is free, or as free as possible, from all flaws or defects. The word originally comes from the Latin perfectio. The French call it parfait, the Italians perfetto and perfezione, the Spanish perfecto and perfeccion. It’s a concept that the Greeks developed and called teleos. Aristotle, in his book Delta of the Metaphysics, defines teleiotes as that which is complete, and contains all the requisite parts; that which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better; and that which has attained its purpose.

Perfection is set. It is nearly unattainable in its completeness. It never changes. Even the opposite, its paradox, imperfection, is perfection. According to Aristotle, there could be nothing left to add or subtract. It is complete, finished. And thus, whatever it is, it remains out of reach. But what about perfect?

Perfect can change, at least in my humble opinion. What’s perfect today may not be perfect tomorrow. The weather comes to mind. Today was spectacular. A light breeze rustled the palm trees and woke up the blooming bougainvillea. The sky was a hazy blue, thin clouds drifted high above the foothills. Sunshine drifted down, keeping the temperature a perfect 71º. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be cloudy, cooler.

I made a perfect dinner the other night. Grilled tilapia with a green chile and peach relish, Brussels sprouts, quartered, and sautéed in white truffle oil with garlic and mushrooms. I sliced up additional peaches, arranged them neatly on the plate, and drizzled a balsamic glaze atop. We served it with a 2007 Z Cuvee from Zaca Mesa. The next night, I burned the chicken.

I’m reading a perfect book. The next one may not be so exquisite, the words, the phrasing not quite right

A perfect day, a perfect night, a perfect meal, a perfect glass of wine, the perfect relationship. The perfect job, the perfect weekend, the perfect car, the perfect pet. A perfect life.

My idea of what’s perfect changes daily, and sometimes hourly. My life is perfect and then it isn’t. My career is perfect but sometimes it’s not. I have the perfect creative current running through my brain and then it’s gone.

Perfect is fleeting, it’s subjective and it can be so much better than perfection. Whereas perfection is complete, perfect is incomplete, an ever-expanding, ever-evolving, ever-changing ideal. It depends on mood, on circumstance, on weather. It needs a confluence of events to occur in order to expose a sliver of life as we want it to be and hope that it is. It is aspirational, and while I don’t believe I will ever aspire to perfection because then I’ll be done – done with loving, done with living; done with savoring a day or a weekend or a meal or a bottle of wine; done with what it means to be on this earth – I do aspire to perfect every day because it can be different tomorrow. That’s something to celebrate and the reason I live it out loud. 


live out loud

Comments (1) -

3/13/2014 11:00:04 AM #

I'm going to share this one with Shawn. She's always striving for perfection, and it's good to put it in this perspective.

khris United States

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