Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nobody's Perfect

Certainly not me. 

Philosophy 101: Plato's theory of forms. Plato Caliente believed that reality was composed of two realms. The first is the physical world that we observe through our senses. The other contains the perfect forms of everything we see in our physical world.  These perfect forms are like the master copy that all the other copies are made from, and these master copies exist in some other dimension. These forms are more real than their pale imitations in our own world.  

I grew up attending a United Methodist church with my family. The Methodist organization would sometimes change our pastor at their whim. One of these changes was warranted though, because our minister was discovered to be having an affair with one of his parishioners. We shared our minister with another church in nearby Chartley, and the harlot was from that congregation. Our pews were filled with blued-haired old ladies. No harlots to choose from there. That pastor moved on, but his ex-wife stayed behind to become our new minister. There were a few rocks thrown by owners of glass houses, I can tell you that much.

I once attended a wilderness survival school in New Jersey. Yes, New Jersey. The school was run by author and nature boy, Tom Brown, Jr., who was taught by "grandfather," an Apache Indian. I hadn't thought of Brown as any type of guru, but a.) I was surprised to see that he was a cigarette smoker ("Grandfather wouldn't approve.") and b.) I was more shocked to see him put out said cigarette on the side of a tree, while showing us squirrel tracks.

Growing up, we see our parents as infallible. Sooner or later, usually by the our teen years, we start to see their mistakes and misinformation. (Hell, my dad voted for Nixon!) We start to see their humanity. Parents. Teachers. Everyone fails. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't look up to people or have mentors. We should just be aware that we all have human failings. We're imperfect, and I don't think that there is a perfect form of me in another dimension, with straight A's and an awesome haircut.

Perfection is certainly something to strive for though. It is the model of the essence of excellence. The fulfillment of all positive possibilities. For thousands of years, many creatures across the spectrum, search for a mate with perfect symmetry. The better the symmetry the more likely the mate has a healthy genetic make-up. If one eye is over to the side, then their offspring may sport that same sideways look.

Many of us stress over our perceived need to be perfect, trying to please parents, bosses, even children. Mistakes are lessons to be learned. Steps on the path towards higher wisdom. Perfection is unattainable -- it only exists inside of our imperfect minds -- yet it should always be aimed for. If we fall short, we pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves off and jump back into the fray. No retreat, no surrender.

"Nothing we see or hear is perfect. But right there in the imperfection is perfect reality.” -- Shunryu Suzuki

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