Not long ago when I was talking with my daughter I noticed a tattoo on her arm I hadn’t seen before. I couldn’t read the words so I asked her what they said. “Perfection is not the goal,” she answered. Huh. Interesting. The words were situated on her arm so she could read them easily. Talk about having a mantra to live by close at hand—no sticky notes or post-its on the wall for my girl! It was clear she wanted to be reminded of this message any moment, any time. And it gave me pause for thought.
This beautiful young woman is a talented, professional photographer and a successful artist in her own right. I have the deepest respect for her sense of style, creativity and ability to see the world differently than I do. Which brings me to my point. I realized that much of my life has been spent in the quest for perfection. Had I imposed this on her as she grew up? Being honest, chances are probably yes. She was kind enough not to comment on that.
Before more could be said on the topic, our conversation moved on to other things and we hugged good-bye without circling back to her tattoo. But over the next few days I began to think long and hard about perfection…or not.
My young years were spent in hours of ballet classes. Every night after school I was in front of a mirror with a corps of other girls, muscles quivering as we lifted a leg higher or fell to the floor in a pirouette that wasn’t perfectly centered. We shaped our bodies through grueling exercises and learned to leap through the air—light as a feather—with power and strength. Ballet is an art form that demands perfection. And it was all I knew for years as a dancer.
My current artistic endeavor is writing a novel. Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo. Its very essence and premise is to send one’s internal editor (that strict taskmaster who wants everything perfect) on vacation for a month and let the creative spirit flow. Really, now that I think about it, NaNoWriMo should use my daughter’s mantra: Perfection is not the goal. Creativity is. And that brings me full circle. I think that’s exactly what she’s striving for. So am I.
Love that girl. She’s such an inspiration.