Monday, September 10, 2012

Letting Go of Perfection

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." - Gilbert Chesterton

I love this quote, because it completely challenges the perfectionist in me. Perfectionism breeds procrastination. If I continually wait until I am prepared enough, I may be waiting a long time. Perfectionism is elusive, and a moving target. Since I am constantly growing and evolving, I have come to the habit of putting it out there, whether I am ready or not. You guys have been a great help to me. So thank you!

When I was a child, my mother was a wonderful artist, yet it seemed that she never finished a painting. I remember an unfinished portrait of my father and brother on an easel in my parents' bedroom that remained there until finally the divorce of my parents spawned the sale of our family home. It was curious to me that my mother had such talent, and yet could not continue to grow because she was stuck on finishing the painting perfectly. The fact that I was raised to color inside the lines has often been the bane of my existence, for I was good at it, and yet my natural artistic style is much more childlike than lifelike.

The quality of perfectionism was instilled in me from my paternal side as well. My father could wrap both legs around his head, and because my body structure and genetics came from the same pool, I could join in on the party tricks. However, the talents that I had often prevented me from trying the things I was not good at. If I couldn't do it perfectly, I wouldn't want to do it. Or what's worse, if I did one thing amazingly well, I would balk at the idea of following it up.

Taking a risk to do something badly is one of the most liberating experiences you may have. I remember my ex-boyfriend telling me that I was so bad at being in a relationship, that I was actually good at it. At the time he and I first came together, I had fallen apart. I had a fire in my house and was a little homeless, my car broke down for good in the parking lot, and I was an emotional wreck. I said, "So you love me even though I'm a mess?" And he said, "Baby, I love you BECAUSE you're a mess." And that was all I needed to hear.

Being human is messy. We are imperfect. We hurt each other. We mess up. We try again. In terms of the yoga, it really permeates all areas of life. Yet, in terms of the practice, what better example than to try Crow Pose, play with Dragonfly (depicted above), or attempt to bind your Side Angle Pose? If we never try the things we aren't good at, we never fail, but we also don't excel.

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