Cupping his face in his hands, elbows on hospital table, the paediatrician looked up at me, smiling through his bushy grey eyebrows and glasses, “she’s just perfect”.
His smile was so warm, a man who found delight in this aspect of his work.
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There she was, safe, healthy and delivered. That’s all I wanted. She was perfect.
Fast forward 18 months, laughing and running in the lounge room. She trips, stumbles and crashes into the TV, her cries cuts through me. It wasn’t a bad cut but it left a scar, her first scar.
She was still perfect, but for ever more would have that little scar, just above her lip. Still perfect, but not how she was. She was different, altered.
What is perfect?
Is she less perfect?
I think that’s a question we all would have to answer for ourselves.
Many babies are born, just like she was, many containing yet to be revealed health issues, the origins of which are already present within them.
What is perfect…..
I knew when I decided I had to write this post that I would struggle, I think I almost always struggle.
It’s an internal battle to fight past the doubt and the insecurity and start writing. What if people reading this get bored? Don’t understand? What if I don’t convey my thoughts in a way that connects with people?
What if I’m wrong? ….wrong?
Perfect –perfection- speaks to me as the absence of error, without blemish. Perfection is absolute. There’s nothing wrong with that, the issue for me is all about the criteria, what is required for something to be perfect.
Water is perfect, when all I want it to be is wet. If I want to wash or drink it then I want it to be clean too. If I want to have a bath then temperature is important as well.
What determines ‘perfectness’ is not the ‘item’ or ‘thing’ but the criteria of how we assess it.
I think that sometimes the criteria is clear and apparently obvious.
It was a perfect kick = the ball went where it was meant to.
As I’ve been writing this I was thinking that systems of scoring gymnastics and diving could measure if the performance was perfect, but there seems to be some degree of personal judgement that could vary. I was thinking that measuring could remove the personal judgements and leave only scientifically accuracy. But then that is influenced by what we think is the perfect amount and the tolerances we are accepting of.
Someone once told me there isn’t such a thing as a perfect circle. That when you enlarge the image enough you would see that the curve wouldn’t be perfectly curved. And given that numbers are infinite, then accuracy of measurement is limited by the increments we can measure by.
This leaves me thinking we use ‘perfect’ to describe how something fulfils our requirements, (it was a perfect Sunday afternoon) it’s not absolute perfection, but it perfectly fulfils the criteria we place on it. Another way I think ‘perfect’ is used is to judge somethings shortfall; the cake I made isn’t perfect, I did a good job, but it’s not perfect. This action in its self is probably not a problem, especially if the ‘criteria’ is clear and it’s accurate.
For me the problem is when the criteria becomes unclear or generalised and when the judgement becomes a statement about the person, their self-worth.
So what is perfect?
For me, it’s what meets my criteria.
I’m in control of that. I can choose how I’m going to judge my efforts. I can choose how I judge others too. I can choose to be generous and accepting that we are all perfectly imperfect.