September Musings

The word perfect has been running through my mind all summer. It started on an evening walk with my dogs. Most days we would take a left out of the driveway, walk down the familiar main street in our small village, past the town green and past the beach. Each time I would admire this one house, particularly for its perfection. The house has been perfectly restored, has perfect gardens and every blade of grass is in order. Then it glared at me, the small house sign! It wasn’t perfect! It was a weather-beaten wooden sign with two mismatched numbers to make the whole of the house number. I was perplexed! I wondered most of July, why was the sign not perfect like everything else? And why did that make me just a little happy inside?

I was talking with a friend whose daughter struggles with attaining perfection. I’ve heard that girls and women tend toward perfectionism more than men. I’m not sure if that’s true but I know I strived for perfection from an early age. I can remember in second grade carefully choosing out just the right Valentine’s Day envelopes! Can you imagine the energy spent on that? And don’t we do that as adults, sending out the perfect holiday card and showing perfect photos on Instagram while leaving out that everyone may have been bickering right before? Granted, it’s a bit easier to fane perfection in a photo or a post. It’s exhausting and detrimental to do it IRL. I know, I’ve tried! And the truth is perfectionism can steal your joy, make you want to give up, tell you you’re not good enough.

While working on landscaping and pruning this week, it became clear to me that nature is perhaps the closest humans can get to glimpsing perfection. My first task was to liberate some evergreens that were being encroached on by other nearby trees. And once I did, I could see the shapes of the evergreens and interesting limbs, the way one jutted one way and another sort of crooked and low hanging. I could see the beauty in the asymmetry, the randomness. That tree was a sculpture, a work of art in its own way. Not perfectly symmetrical, but perfectly imperfect.

All of this is to say, please don’t let perfectionism steal one bit of your joy, take too much of your time or make you crazy. It’s ok to be good enough, to relax into the now of life and enjoy things just as they are. There is a lot of freedom in that. So here’s to a messy mud room, unfinished painting projects and dogs who need grooming.

With love and gratitude,


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