As the great philosopher Frank Sinatra once said in his hit “My Way”, “regrets…I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” Notwithstanding the fact that he says he has had too few to mention literally right after mentioning that he had them, we have probably all at some point regretted an action, or a statement, or something in our lives. Regret, is one of those emotions that’s easy to get, and hard to get rid of. We try, talking about the eyesight capabilities of hindsight or simply take the lead of Sinatra and just not mention them, hoping the burying of such sentiments will result in their eventual erosion or banishment to the back recesses of the mind. But more often than not, they rise up like the undead to confront us when we are least capable of dealing with it. For you see, regret is really the overwhelming unquenched thirst for perfectionism. Which, as you will no doubt soon see, is something I have no desire to try for.
My antipathy towards perfectionism is, well, strong. I absolutely HATE the idea of perfectionism. Perfectionism is a quest in which we are told it will bring us to ultimate happiness and fulfillment. We keep up with the Joneses for long enough, we can become the Joneses that everyone else is chasing after. Perhaps it should come at no surprise that some of my favorite books of all time are dystopic novels, ripe with the warnings of what could happen should “Perfection” come to root. I think the overwhelming theme that tends to come out of these types of books is that “perfection” is…well…pretty boring and hard to get. Human existence is turned into a giant sheep colony looking for the next bit of grass to chew upon.
Whether its the shine of a new toy or the euphony of a sermon on Sunday, we are presented with the paths towards perfectionism if we merely just follow the predetermined laws governing them. I feel sometimes like the kid situated way in the back with hand raised asking, “Yes, but whose perfection is it?” Because, in truth, just how do we define it? Is it yours? Mine? That guy who always manages to ride on the same subway you’re on? I don’t know and you probably don’t either. Take a minute to think about what you would consider to be absolute perfection. Then think about why you consider that to be perfect. Chances are, somebody either told you it was or you were presented with it in some way. Thus, there is no real way to give it an exact definition, and thus you have billions of people all chasing it in different ways. Which inevitably, means that its only a matter of time before someone’s perfection clashes with another. And thus begins the problems.
The other part of my problem with perfection is, its kinda out of your hands isn’t it? I mean, you are following what someone else has told you is perfection. Your personal input isn’t so much required. So, if I’m to become perfect, I’m in a sense supposed to become someone else. And I have to do things not because they are the right thing to do, but because they are the recipe to the cocktail of nirvana. I just see something wrong with that.
It’s hard not to want to be perfect. I can’t tell you the number of days in which I wake up and think, if I do this and that, maybe I will finally get the perfect life I have always wanted. Then, life finds a way to kick you back down a peg and make you realize, well maybe there is something to learn here. And thus, the emphasis is on me to make the necessary adjustments to not repeat that particular mistake again. Instead, it will no doubt be some new one in which the process will have to repeat itself. And so on and so on. But the emphasis is always on me and its always my personal responsibility to try to do the right thing because its the right thing to do, not because I’m getting rewarded for it. Yes we are going to goof up. But we should keep trying to do the best we can and be the best we can towards everyone else. Until we, per Sinatra, “face the final curtain.”