I studied music as a child and I remember that at the end of many classical songs was the word perfect. This word was out of place to me as I didn’t really understand what it meant until a few years ago. Etymology tells us that this comes from the latin ‘perfectus’ meaning ‘completed’. How the word has come to mean ‘as good as possible’ isn’t actually a far stretch when we look at the underlying connotation between the definitions.
If we are striving for an ideal, we keep striving for that ideal until we get close enough to feel a sense of satisfaction. If you are a painter, you would continue painting, if you were a mathematician you would continue proofing, if you were a dancer you would continue rehearsing, until you had done all you could do. No other resolve can come to the process of creating this ideal beyond achieving it or letting it go. If you are able to achieve the ideal, then you stop. If you are not able to achieve the ideal, and you let it go, you also stop.
In either case of success or failure you reach a point where you must end and it is at that point that the work is perfect. It is not always that you stop because your work is exceptionally good, but instead because it is as good as it can be. This might mean giving into the fact that you can’t do any better at the moment. This act of surrender is actually liberating. The impulse that cause you to start might not be quenchable but you can decide to put it aside and release the impulse if you can.
This month we are going to talk about how the new President-Elect has inspired some and defeated others. In some places we see an emboldened group of activists getting engaged in politics like never before. And still so many others have resigned themselves to laissez faire “Let’s wait and see.” attitudes. What is the value in the later?
It might come from the same feeling that rises in us when a loved one dies. I lost my mother to cancer a few years a go. As sad as I was that she was gone, there was some consolation in knowing her pain had ended. This relief sometimes comes with a resolve, even if it isn’t the one we wanted. Anxiety can be a stressor all its own and conclusions allow us to reframe our perspective and recognize what direction to move next.
At the end of anything is a closure, a buttoning up, and filing away, this might not come at the end of the event, or the end of a song. But once the grieving, or celebration, or work is done there is nothing but stillness and in that finality lies perfection.
Founder, Citizens Of Culture