Tuesday, 5 August 2014

It's Got to Be Perfect...

We're all looking for perfection. The ideal that marks the end of the road. Job done. Nothing more to do. Game over.

How horrible. Just imagine that you could get there. Find that elusive 'it' that makes the difference between damn near perfect and the totality of it all. You'd be happy then – for a while. You could ride on that for a good time: being the man or woman who achieved the golden one oh oh. You could show off your achievement – you did get photos, didn't you – and then one day you'd come to a shuddering halt. Crippled and frightened.

What do you do next?

Imagine you're an artist or a writer, making a career or a living out of what you do. You've worked hard, studied, feted the attention of the people you respect, learned their secrets and got their respect. You've spent years perfecting your techniques and honing your vision so that the art you produce is incontroversially as good, if not better than anyone else in your field can do. Repeatedly. Every time.

And then it happens.

Just imagine it. You're there at the top of the hill. Looking down. No-one better than you on that day. Anywhere.

So you roll along, enjoying your fame. But what do you do when the crowds aren't there? When you have to carry on and produce the next commission. How do you prepare yourself for that; knowing you'll most likely not achieve perfection this time? Even the thought you might not will probably be enough to make you hesitate and hold back.

And then it's all downhill from there. People will say you've past your best: that you're washed up. Even though you might be better than everyone else, you'll still be less than you were. A has-been. Maybe you could keep at your art but every piece you do will be a disappointment.

And so you'll give up.

You might continue with your art but the heart will be lost.


Of course, this isn't likely to happen to anyone. Art is a subjective media and you can never satisfy everyone's ideals. Especially your own. And I'd never make the claim that I've ever achieved perfection in what I do and that I can't improve on what I've done before. But there's a difference between that and my seeking to perfect everything I do. The 'best I can do today' is often what you need to do. Sometimes you need to accept that and let it go. Release it into the world.

And move on.

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