On Behalf Of The Less-Than-Perfect
I don’t make my living writing political commentary and for those of you who have read my political commentary you may think there’s a good reason for that. I make my living producing shows where people have an opportunity to perform, present their music, songs they’ve written, do magic or standup comedy and if a puppet show was in town, I’d put them up there too. I don’t perform much anymore, certainly not for a living and if you’ve seen me perform you’d likely think there’s a good reason for that too. I’m not perfect. Not as a producer, performer, writer or a man.
There are times when we know something is absolutely true, but somehow don’t believe it anyway. My friend Nancy posed that idea to me last night in the form of a question, and it’s been rattling through my head ever since. We all know, nobody is perfect, but I swear we don’t believe it. We know it, but we don’t believe it. So who do we believe is perfect? I don’t know if it’s a “who” as much as a “what.” It seems to be that “it’s” “what” we’re always comparing ourselves to.
I think this disease called perfect, starts when we’re quite young. When you’re a preschooler, you bring home a drawing and it’s right up on the fridge with rave reviews. You sing “The Bear Hunt” song and Mon and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa howl with approval and applaud. If you’re off key, you don’t know it. If your drawing is unrecognizable to anyone else but you, you’re unaware. You draw and you sing without the burden of self-consciousness. It doesn’t last long.
When you get into the magical world of Kindergarten you become aware of what others are doing and are capable of doing. Dad said you’re beautiful, but everyone else in class says that she is. I liked to sing, but that kid can actually carry a tune. I bang away on the piano, but she actually plays it. Uncle Buddy said I was smart, but Uncle Buddy’s an idiot – there are lots of kids smarter than me. And it goes on and on and is reinforced with testing, competitions, measurements and how people respond to you.
The problem isn’t the testing or competition. I think the problem is an absence of acceptance and forgiveness for our scars and imperfections. I don’t know if humans have always been this harsh on themselves and the others of our species, but we are now and it’s the cause of much suffering, and perhaps suffocation of joy. Oh god, I hate when I start sounding like a sermon..
Some examples may help this. In the spring of 2008, in Parade Magazine, that free magazine inside of Sunday papers, a reader asked the editor “why does Hillary Clinton always wear pant suits and not a dress?” I was glad to see this question because I personally lost a lot of sleep wondering about that myself. The editor’s answer was that Hillary’s legs aren’t her strong point. So Hillary wore pant suits because she doesn’t have great legs. At that moment the light came on within and I realized that must also be why Barack Obama and John McCain wear pants! They have lousy legs.
Does It really matter if Hillary’s legs weren’t gorgeous? Not just as a presidential candidate but any other measure of being human? Beyond absurd but highly acceptable thinking at the same time. Is this a contradiction or a paradox? (thanks for that line KC).
In the music industry, all recording studios use computers to modify sounds so they seem perfect, even if the performer is less than perfect and performers are less than perfect. They all do it and modulation for pitch and tone are done by computer at live performances as well. It’s an illusion but we buy it.
Our massive media influence caters to this illusion and perhaps that’s the “what” I referred to earlier. That’s what we compare ourselves to. We don’t measure up; we can’t measure up because we’re comparing ourselves to a mirage.
And then there’s Hadar, my brilliant yellow lab, Seeing Eye dog and best friend I ever had. As I get older and show it, Hadar’s love doesn’t waver. If I perform and blow it, he still wags his tail and is happy to see me. When I sing he listens with ears up and is totally absent of the judgment I wish I was absent of them. He’s free of these comparisons and he gets it while we’re slaves to them and don’t. Why do we pay attention to these judgments? They’re worthless, yet we do listen and act as if they’re precious. Another paradox, not a contradiction.
I don’t know that Hadar is right. But I do know that when I embrace his life view, I’m happier and willing to do much more. And we have the audacity to believe we’re a superior species.
What’s your opinion? I’d like to hear from you. Please reply on this blog. Thanks for reading.