The Problem of Perfection

Where do I begin? Where every story does…

…Once upon a time, in a land close by, in a house, there lived a person…

There is no need to explain anything else about that person in a house in a land close by because this isn’t the story of one person: this is everybody’s story; the soldier, the mechanic, the housewife, the actor, musician and athlete. Yes, this is the story that has already begun and each baby who enters the world enters into the very plot of the narrative.

The story began with perfection and its present situation is a struggle to return to that perfect state.

The thing is people die every day. People say things that aren’t nice. Friends leave. Hope seems like a dream. Wars are fought but hardly won.

Where did the idea of perfection in any realm of existence come from? No one can grasp it and when it seems right within reach, it vanishes like a willow the wisp.

First, people are consumers. They are consumed with wealth, appearance, friends and to put it simplest, “stuff.” Above all, the individual becomes absorbed with little more than, “I, me and myself.”

The selfishness, greed and lust are obscenely evident and it makes one wonder, “Is perfection possible and if not why do we struggle to earn it?”

Could it be that perfection is relative? Who decides what is perfect? Modest people envision a perfect life differently than one who already has what the modest person dreams of. Wealthier people envision as a perfect life what only kings and lords have. If nobility has every worldly comfort, what do kings long for?

From this viewpoint: the hope of every person to attain promotions, world records and financial security, is a subjective perfection. The human “professionals” decide what is worthy, honorable and secure. You don’t get to make the rules until you are the ruler.

If success (that idea of a perfect life) is relative, it is also unstable and it changes with the of the waves of the sea.

The world’s fastest 100 meter sprint a century ago is no longer revered. It is forgotten. The gold standard then is not the gold standard now. The perfect technique in skiing has become the old school way today. It is inefficient. Despite constant change, this is the way to perfection. Perfection shows progress, innovation and improvement. It is an ability to move forward and not halt success.

If the standard of perfection changes as described before, is it perfection? The shoreline ends here, but over there another wave begins. As the winds blow, we must change course in subjection to its force.

Who sets the standard? If people set the standard, men will fight for the elite position. If God sets the standard, we have something greater to run towards. And this is why perfection is something we strive for. This is why people should strive towards excellence. Run in such a way that you may win, exercising self control in all things.

No, perfection on earth is not possible. It is a perishable wreath of glory. Indeed, there was only one man to walk the face of this earth and live a perfect life. No, not here, not now, will perfection be a possibility, but that gives no excuse why we should not struggle towards excellence.  Testing of the faith produces endurance and endurance has its perfect results. There is a much greater goal in mind than earthly perfection however man defines it. It is obedience to pursuing perfection.

Wake at five a.m., warm up for twenty minutes, stretch, 5×400 meter intervals, cool down, stretch, eat etc. Following this routine, the athlete is obeying the components of a good workout. Though a perfect workout, warm-up, or recovery has not been established, the athlete can perfectly adhere to completing what has been established perfectly.

Perfection in and of itself as a means to an end is unknown to man, but the ways of imperfection can and have been completed perfectly. That greater goal is perfect obedience to God.

A true athlete does not go into a race to halfheartedly race it. He or she would rather sit out than give anything less than his or her best. As Prefontaine said, “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” This is why the greatest competitor is the competitor within each person. The competitor named “self.”

Every competitor lives a life well structured, with purpose to become the best. Competitors take into consideration every bite they eat. Every workout has a focus. Every glass of water drunk, every hour of sleep, every movement seems chosen with thought.

This is why an athlete eventually must make a decision. The multi sport athlete by college makes a choice: one choice if they desire to reach the highest level of perfection that is possible on this earth. Man cannot serve two masters for he will hate the one and love the other or he will love the one and hate the other. Though fear of failure and mistakes linger at every corner, never be afraid to step forward and meet her face to face. Life always has its turns and though a road may seem clear it is just as unexpected as the life that has hairpin corners: corners as surprising and challenging as Nordic skiing on a downhill mountain; no heels attached. They may not be pretty or perfect turns but it’s near perfect if you committed, gritted your teeth and enjoyed the ride.

A coach once said to me, “vaulting over a bar backwards may not be beautiful, but the fact that you got over it is the most beautiful thing of all.”

Life may seem like a rat race of buying, consuming and failing with that constant hunger to be known, to have success, to be loved, to be perfect but if you know your Maker, you will want to be the best that you can be and that is all. This is why, though human perfection is not possible by God’s perfect standard, the struggle for perfection is just as honorable as perfection itself; because at the core of the matter is the will of the heart. The problem of perfection is real. But it doesn’t have to be a problem.

 

One thought on “The Problem of Perfection

  1. this is fantastic, my dear. you’re fantastic. I love your wisdom and the simplicity of your words. thanks for writing this.
    (Lydia A)

    Like

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