Sunday, April 8, 2012

We Can Be Perfect

Be excellent to one another

Thoughts from the Easter Sunday afternoon ride.

We are indeed finite, limited, flawed, mortal creatures, with tendency toward narrow vision and selfish disposition, each of us. Yet, at any given moment, in the face of a challenge, given the setting, our own limitations, our state of mind and our own strengths, we can rise to that challenge, and respond to it as well, or better, than anyone else could, given the same comparable facts, parameters, situation. In that moment, if we could do no better, we achieve momentary perfection. On the other hand, if we find ourselves knowing that we could have done better, we fall short.

New 7th Ave underpass needed some softening up to be perfect, for a moment

Musicians know this. The organist I heard play Vidor's Tocatta from his Fifth Symphony today showed it. No one else, in her shoes, with her experience and skill, on that organ, could have done better. In that moment, playing that piece, she was perfect. She knew she could not have played better.

This is not the same as some sort of absolute and permanent perfection, but rather the possible, time and place bound, phyiscal law bound, best in class type of perfection, when a personal record (PR) or personal best (PB) is actually the best that anyone at that age, skill, experience, mental and physical state and abilities, in that time and place, could have done.

In each small choice, we decide to do what is best, or not, choose the route of perfection, or not

When a homeless person comes up and asks politely for some food, is my response perfect? I know the best response, but am I perfect in actually doing it?

When deadlines loom, and hunger, fatigue, thirst, and stress are piling up, do I show as much patience as I should with my kids? Seen through their eyes, I know what such a father can look like, and sound like, with an occasionally less-than-perfect, less-than-patient, and yet very understandable growl. Do I know better? Of course. I could be, should be, need to be perfect, though, when it comes to this.

What's a perfect dream then? What would perfection in imagination possibly be?

It's not always, or in fact is seldom, about being the absolute fastest, or coming in first, unless that is actually your potential best on that day. To achieve less, and to know that you could have performed better, is imperfection. But, to leave every last bit out there is to be perfect, whether you win or not. Playing ticktacktoe to a perfect draw every time, and laughing about it with my daughter, is perfection without winning. So is playing fairly, following the rules, enjoying the contest, and being a good sport. In fact, winning while not doing those is also imperfect. 

On this Easter Sunday, it seemed relevant to wonder if there is an intelligence in the universe which is perfect, in this sense, consistently, constantly? Still bound by physics and the possible, but in every situation, in the face of every challenge, responding in the best possible way every single time? Always making the best choice, doing the best possible thing? It would be perfect to think so, if only for a moment on a bright spring day on a bicycle, with the sun shining and everything seeming possible.

Again the moment when the desert turns brilliant yellow, and trees remind us of perfection

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