Monday, February 8, 2010

Where, oh where, oh where, is my perfect woman!

“Perfection has one grave defect:
 it is apt to be dull.”
William Somerset Maugham

“In all my life, I have never met anyone that has had the perfect relationship. Whether it be a relationship with themselves, their country, their friends, family or significant others -- nothing is ever perfect. ...

So, if perfection doesn't exist, then what types of relationships should we strive for? A satisfying one? A stable one? More comfort than conflict?

On the subject of relationships, a good friend of mine always says, "You must be challenged." It's way too easy to slide through life un-phased and un-attached. A solid relationship is one that always keeps you on your toes. It takes work. It takes commitment. And, at the end of the day, you're a better person because of it. Is it perfect? Never. But you don't want it to be." 
From the film “Trailer Park-the perfect relationship”

Some conversations are unforgettable.  I recall one with a friend, who a few years ago, cheerfully proclaimed his new girlfriend as "perfect.”

“No red flags. Not one,” he said, after resolving on January 1st that he wanted to find his mate in 2006 and, lo and behold, found Her on January 7th.

Well, he admitted, “She doesn't come to a complete stop at traffic signals, but that is a 'minor thing.”

“Wow.”  I was almost speechless.

It took a few weeks for me to erupt with my pithily succinct inquiry, “Perfect?”

He clarified, “Well, we see each other as perfect, so we are perfect for each other.”

“Wow,” I replied.

I don't think I've ever met anyone I thought was perfect, although I have known someone who said I was perfect.

It felt weird. 

“I find imperfection the most interesting thing about a person”

Maybe new lovers sense perfection in each other in those oxytocinated blooms of lust. Nature is brilliant, probably providing this relative blindness just long enough for a male and female to lure, mate, and reproduce.  Then they/we roll over in boredom. Or she, disgusted, bites off his head and/or he, feeling frantic and un-free, runs away, leaving her to the tiger. 

I appreciate my friend's comment about his new woman's perfection.  It provoked me to revisit the notion of perfection, which has likely defined my own way of being since I was a wee rug rat.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, a precious little girl in Amarillo, Texas “stole” some candy cigarettes from the corner market. Her (my) mother made her return them and apologize to the shop owner for being “bad.”

I was mortified at my quite innocent error and ordered apology—until that moment I had no concept of good and bad.  My mother remains incredulous that I can even remember the incident.

“You were two years old. You could barely walk, certainly not talk,” she said.

But a two-year-old can understand disappointing her parent with her first "mistake.”

Daddy, a few years later, lambasted my imperfect penmanship. Signing my name onto valentines for kindergarten classmates, I kept crossing the N's backwards.  I still hear my German father’s stern, loud—unsuccessful—coaching….and then standing in a corner while my parents chatted with an insurance salesman at the kitchen table a few feet away.

I –humiliated--was certain they were discussing, not actuarial tables, but my ridiculous N’s.

  “This is the very perfection of a man,
to find out his own imperfections.”

Saint Augustine

Sometime in puberty, we learn to compare our imperfect selves with our miraculously perfect peers.  I believe this happened to me when Mama came to hear me sing with my junior high choir.  I know exactly where it happened—in a long lineoleum hallway lined with steel lockers.  I know exactly what I was wearing -- the most adorable, new denim A-line skirt.  I thought myself quite “mod”  until after the concert, Mama noticed a quite curvy cheerleader wearing her quite tight mini-skirt.

“Too bad you can't wear a skirt like that, DeNeice.”  Of course, I heard, “Too bad you’re a candy thief who makes backwards N’s and wears square skirts and aren’t perfect—like her.”

“The mother is only really the mistress 
of her daughter a model of wisdom
and type of perfection.” 
Alexandre Dumas Père

It  makes sense that I'm not like my male friend who measures perfect sunsets with a number 10...and who found his perfect woman in less than a week.

If there is perfection in my life, it comes one moment at a time, when I am so present that I am absolutely overwhelmed by the magic in the right here and right now.  In these special, real moments, the imperfect past and pluperfect future evaporate.  

These sweet, rare moments are bliss…as are the shadowy times where something or someone breaches my comfortable edges.  Then, I can risk discomfort and imperfection— to experience a sublime moment of extra-ordinariness.

The sages  seem also to prefer this treacherous, unfinished, imperfect adventure:

“A beautiful thing is never perfect.”  Proverb

“Perfectionism is slow death”  Hugh Prather

“Out of perfection nothing can be made.”   Joseph Campbell

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”   George Orwell

“Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.”  Salvador Dalí

“The greater the emphasis on perfection, the further it recedes”   Haridas Chaudhuri

“Perfectionism is the enemy of creation.”   John Updike

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” Anne Lamott

“The farther a man knows himself to be free from perfection,
the nearer he is to it” Gerard Groote

“A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections …
is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure.”  Buddha

ADDENDUM:  Sometime between the 12th and 18th months of his perfect relationship, my manfriend found a number of unforgivable flaws in his perfect woman and they  ended the perfect pair bonding soon after she helped him set up what became his groovy bachelor pad. 

Without pause and with predictable masculine "kill the dear" focus, he began turbo-dating and reported a few months later that he was “intense” with one of his four girlfriends. He did not say she was perfect. 

ADDENDUM ADDENDUM:  The "intense" relationship ended.  Her successor had Big ("great, huge") Positives but, alas,  "more negatives than positives."

And so the quest continued -- continues-- for his illusive, perfect butterfly.