More Perfect, Most Perfect
May 12, 2003
exists, but not in mankind. Men, women and children are miracles,
but, alas, they are not perfect. Perfection happens, dear friends,
it is not by our doing. I hear a songbird outside my window and
his sounds are incredibly clear and true, his repertoire a majestic
spontaneous score without affect or fault. He perfectly sings his
perfect song. A flower opens its pedals in unseen and silent splendor;
its fragrance spreads with the light of the early morning sun, no
one to influence its perfect being. There is none among us who views
the power of towering mountains raging with deathly shadows and
crevices yielding to the tender embrace of billowing heaven-white
clouds of cotton who can improve one bit upon their joined presence.
Perfection is supernatural.
thing aware of itself cannot achieve perfection. If nothing else,
pride precludes it from gaining the flawless state. Perfection is
not for us.
perfection is a troublesome mission, a paradox, a futility and,
perhaps, a lost cause. None of us will ever know the grinning rogue
dressed in fine lamb’s wool, and in the wake of the undertaking
we only become intimate with who and what we are not. How far from
the subject can we get? Follow the clever dancer from a distance
and observe his fancy footwork, but don’t think you can duplicate
the artiste de excellence. His steps are far too swift and right.
that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for the faultless
excellence, while settling for extraordinary or stupendous, amazing
or basic fantastic instead. We must simply keep things in perspective,
accept reality, exercise humility and behead the monsters of greed,
power and self-centeredness. As for me, I am sufficiently busy and
content doing my gracious best -- times two or three.
the quest -- seeking perfection -- there are pros and cons. Some
say of the ambitious venture it disables, stresses, discourages,
depresses and defeats. The insatiable hunt interferes with and interrupts
one’s happy life. I can hear you now, “Oh boy, this
is for me; misery is right up my alley. Any promise of diarrhea
or severe skin rash?”
try so hard to improve we wear ourselves out. Nothing we do is enough
and we get indigestion. Our mistakes are more evident to us than
our successes and we experience limp-shouldered self-doubt and dark-countenance
insecurity. Achievement becomes obsessive and activities not directly
related to the ever-retreating cause seem trivial, wasteful and
irresponsible. We can’t sleep. Time off, entertainment and
relaxation are off-limits -- we can’t bear the guilt, or is
it the fear, of letting up.
becomes evident that perfection and the act of pursuing it are obtuse.
They paralyze. Crossed eyes and one’s tongue hanging out the
side of one’s mouth -- the drool on the chin, the tick in
the right temple and the muted yammering -- are hardly expressions
of triumph. Rather than approach the darling quality, the distance
increases. The frustration is numbing.
Proponents of the grind see it as a heady lifestyle, challenge-concentrated
and energizing. They are a merrily driven mob that takes two steps
forward, trips on its backside, bounces and thinks it’s fun.
They get up. They get ahead. Seeking perfection does that for the
resilient, non-introspective flesh beaters. Try this and if it doesn’t
work, try that and if that doesn’t work, try something else.
Exactly, precisely, absolutely, right on and totally awesome are
the colors of their rainbow at the end of which is perfection.
where do we fit in, cool musclemakers and weightlifters that we
are, strugglers and challengers, seekers and strivers and protein-consuming
flesh beaters? We track the beast, have no thought of capturing
it and are content. We push, press and relax. Lift, curl and rest.
Tug, contract and repair. Hit a set, miss a rep and grow. Ache,
fight and persist. Rip, tear and persevere. When hungry, we consume
large portions of protein, no sugar and a little cream… and
it’s back to the venture with passion.
bolt on muscle, shear off fat and charge the body with power, we
must have our heads screwed on right. Try too hard and expect too
much and the adventure is short-lived. Deliberate effort accompanied
by moans and groans is required to direct our steps to the gym.
It becomes an ugly place where we squander time, evidently, and
inflict pain upon our selves with little evidence of advancement
and plenty of failure.
we set goals that are too ambitious and far beyond our reach, we
will flail as we fail. Our ambition is removed and our reach shortened.
Exercise, should it survive, becomes a perfunctory procedure at
best to keep the buzzards off our back.
Nuts to the birds. Grasp each day and every workout as if it were
your first and last --attitude leads the way and you are getting
close, very close. You don’t find perfection, but you unearth
the gold-hinged hope chest in which it is contained. There are sunrises
and sunsets in your training, mountain lake shorelines in autumn
colors, warm embraces and sweet kisses, the roar of a Harley and
the call of the wild. It’s all there within the workout, the
exercise, the movement, the action. Honey-soaked pain and drum-rhythms
of strain, sweet sighs of hard work and breathe songs of relief;
they unite to arouse the senses.
gym, your training site, is (or should be) your refuge, a place
of encouragement and fulfillment. The gym is where you go to find
release, to call out your name at the top of your lungs, to wag
your tail, to lick your wounds, to make things happen or to withdraw
into your quiet and peaceful turtle shell. Physical pain quenches
the emotional pain, physical movement, flowing and steady, eliminates
disorder and restores balance, physical power exerted relentlessly
charges the body with might, physical action establishes readiness
and alertness and physical awareness promotes long life and love.
we’re some of us go wrong. We count the sets, we count the
reps, we count the days, hours and seconds. We count calories and
grams of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We weigh ourselves and
take measurements. We stare in the mirror, assess and criticize
and wonder. We read, seek advice, listen and compare notes. We become
impatient, disappointed and doubtful. We despair. Why does it take
so long… been six weeks… is anything happening? I don’t
look like her… she’s, like, perfect… will I ever
look like her? What is the perfect formula for me, the ideal scheme,
to achieve excellence? I thought I would feel better… I feel
worse… I’m a toad. Why bother? I give up! Shoot me.
a very real sense we find ourselves obsessing over perfection, or
rather that version of the enchantment we have created for ourselves:
The 400-pound bench and 18-inch arms or small waist and cellulite-free
legs. They are representative of inspiring goals, but become agents
of impossible perfection in the translation and acquisition. Time,
and the obstacles it provides in our quest, is exasperating; the
day-to-day metamorphous is undetectable; our eye undiscerning and
the schemes of attainment are not trusted.
perfection if you must, yet welcome its warm-hearted kin: daily
progress, forward motion, sufficient advancement and considerable
Train hard, and don’t accept its illegitimate siblings: second
best, hardly noticeable, so so, runner-up, better than nothing and
not nearly good enough.
quit, and chase away the haunting, wretched demons: couldn’t
be worse, rotten and miserable, so bad I wanna die and it’s
we sought and fool’s gold we gathered; jewels in fine settings
appeared in our reach and, instead, dull rhinestones we grasped
in our callused palms. The castle of our eye became a tent in the
desert, the mansion a shed among the thicket, the palace a shelter
of rocks formed on craggy foothills.
may be dreamed of, hoped for, reached for and sought after. It can
be imagined, imitated, pretended, poorly masqueraded and foolishly
impersonated. It cannot be acquired. Knock yourself out.
closest thing to perfection for you and me is soaring freely, flying
high with no limits and a three-point landing after another successful
is divine. God’s speed, Bombers… DD
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