"Maine Clothes Dryer", watercolor, by Nita Leger Casey
A maxim that has been instilled in me from my earliest days is the notion that imperfection underlies reality. Right from the start, nothing seemed more important than understanding that perfection is an impossibility. My parents, pastors, teachers, and friends repeated this mantra over and over: “Nothing is perfect.” Naturally, from this basic principle, it gradually came to me that my major enterprise in life was to struggle to improve the universe’s imperfections. If nothing was perfect, than my job was to make everything I encountered a little closer to perfect – a little less imperfect. From this evolved a life of constant toil and thrashing about as I attempted to restructure and upgrade every situation I found myself in. I became the great “fixer”, hell-bent on moving everything a smidgen closer to perfection.
Now, oddly enough, at the age of 67 I find myself faced with an outlandish question: What if that supposed truth that has underlay my entire life is dead wrong? In fact, what if the exact opposite is true? What if perfection underlies reality? What if each moment is as perfect as it could possibly be? I might wish that a moment was different, but what if no moment could be made any better than it is? If it’s a sad moment, perhaps it’s a totally (or perfectly) sad moment. If it’s a tragic moment, perhaps it’s as tragic as it could possibly be – a perfectly tragic moment.
How would this understanding affect the way I live? Would I have to abandon my life-long habit of struggling to make everything better? Would I have to give up forever the belief than I can control, organize, and improve everything? Might I have to admit that life is built on a foundation of utter perfection? And might I see more of that perfection if I made that admission?