(Im) Perfection: advice from my wiser, kinder self

Perfection lies.

Perfection rises as an illusion of light and heat. As straight lines imposed on curved landscapes. As adherence to rules. As dogmas of the one true way.

No human can reach this mirage, Beloved. Not even you.

Perfection impedes.

How long will you wound yourself, insisting that every attempt, step, breath, desire, creation be perfect from the onset?

You allow yourself no learning curve. No compassion. You excise imperfections with white-hot knives.

It is not arduous work or endings which impede you, but fear of imperfect beginnings. You hesitate on thresholds simply because you might fail.

Remember when you stood on the slopes of the Claron Formation, slope-a-scope and plant guide in hand, a site to survey, frozen in fear? Aunt Carole broke the spell, saying “you’re here, you know what you’re doing, trust yourself and just do it.” Gathering your courage, you did. Not perfectly, but well.

Can you imagine life without this drive for perfection?


Stop. Listen. Imagine.  


Imperfections are gifts.

Remember your minerals. When you select one from many, you choose those bearing unexpected color, texture, or shape. Elemental imperfections appear red, yellow, green, blue, or opaque, rather than clear. Crystalline imperfections emerge as botryoidal or vesicular or striated, rather than smooth. Imperfections create beauty.

Imperfections invite wonder.

Remember miles of desert interrupted by wildflowers. Green of meadows marked by unexpected splashes of lupine and paintbrush. Once rough hillslopes smoothed and curved. Roadside waterfalls. Trees defying drought. Sage perfuming the wind. Rocks outcropping as resistant cliffs. Green emerging from fire-blackened trees. Imperfections surprise.

Imperfections embrace wildness.

Remember your child self, running through orchards, gathering fruit, climbing trees, untamed. Recall mixing mud pies, following ant trails, illuminating microscope slides, gathering earthworms, fishing, and romping with rabbits.

Embrace the dirty, grass-stained, tear-stained, sweat-stained, imperfect, happy, free, wild one you were before cultural taming. Imperfections defy civilization.

Imperfections curve and meander.

Remember precisely engineered waterways in your hometown – concrete beds imposed to control flow and flood and course.

Imposed perfection kills the river, removing nooks for fish, boulders, log jams, rope-swings over pools, hands splashing, feet balancing on uneven stones, exploration by canoe.

The river has no thalweg, no invisible line connecting deepest points, for all depths are even, equal, boring, predictable. All that remains is concretized flow.

Embrace life curving into unknown territories, cutting banks, leaving sandbars, carrying loads. Trace the curves of your lover’s lips, of your lips, of shapes made by joining and shapes made alone. Imperfections braid and flow.

Imperfections sanctify.

Find holiness in imperfection. See sanctity in curves of thighs, in pregnancy furrows, in loose skin that once stretched taut over extra pounds of flesh. Embrace mistakes, longings, feelings, aches. Caress fractures in your once-broken heart, cracks now mended with kintsugi gold. Trace the rills in your facescape, the wrinkles carved by concentration, laughter, sadness, joy. Imperfections reclaim.

Imperfections are gifts.

Perfection rises as an illusion of light and heat. No human can reach this mirage, Beloved.

Stop. Listen. Imagine. Be.