to be imperfect

April 12, 2010

I just finished reading some EXCELLENT chapters in The Sound of Paper, the book I quoted from a few entries back. It was so good, I want to quote the whole thing. But of course I can't do that, so here are a few quotes that stood out to me, followed by my own thoughts.

"In order to work freely, we must be willing to work badly, and once we are, we are often able to do good work indeed."

"The ego (in the form of our inner perfectionist) doesn't want us merely to be able to write, paint, sculpt, dance, or act. It wants us to do these things well, to do them brilliantly, or--and here is where drought sets in--not at all."

"The ego has the power to keep us from making art, but it does not really have the power to make art itself. Art is an act of the soul."

Where to begin with the topic of perfection. This has been a downfall for me my whole life, as far back as I can remember - the need to be perfect (whatever that means anyway). Although I am easier on myself than I used to be, I still struggle with the inner perfectionist, or ego, as she calls it, quite often when I create. I almost always start a new project with the expectation that it must "turn out." Often there is no room in my thinking for a first try, a second, and so forth. Just writing that sentence makes me realize how much pressure that is.

I think this is part of why art is redemptive for me. It helps me to grow in an area that I desperately need to grow in, namely the allowing of process. And imperfection. And first drafts. Someone once told me that one sign of finding your calling is when an area of great passion overlaps with an area of great weakness. Or, in other words, an area of great need. Basically, your passion leads you to do what you actually really need to be doing, for growth.

I find this to be a hopeful lens through which to look at life. We are all a mixture of good and bad, strength and weakness. But if what we're ultimately called to do not only brings joy but also growth, then it seems to me that true fulfillment is possible.

2 comments on “to be imperfect”

  1. Thanks for the wisdom in this, my $free$ therapy for the night ... so what you're saying in nerdy mathematical terms is that {"calling" = "passion" + "weakness"}

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