The Perfect is the Enemy of Everything

It is an often repeated statement – "The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good", meaning that if you try for perfection you will not only fail, you won't get to achieve something pretty good.

Let me extend on this and share my findings: the Perfect is the enemy of everything, even mediocrity.

I run into people who have given up because they can't have things Perfect – and have no plans beyond that.  I meet people who constantly try for Perfection and are frustrated with the fact they failed inevitably – yet never reassess their approach while their blood pressure rises.  I run into people embarrassed to admit to imperfection, suffering and failing while acting like nothing is wrong.

And as anal-retentive as I am, let me state this: Perfection ALWAYS fails.

You can have an ideal, some platonic idea, a strange attractor you whirl around, but don't act like you'll ever get there (indeed, how can you know if things are perfect?  It cant be grasped).  Zen-wise as soon as you get there you'll want something else anyway.

So, forget Perfection.  Chances are it's not even YOUR idea of Perfection you're aiming for, it's someone else's – a parent's, a friend's, a co-worker's, an abstract ideal culled from mass media.

Instead aim for what's important to you – happiness, fulfilling a vision, etc.  Don't try to do everything lockstep, but steer and surf and don't go in a straight line if you can't.  Stop trying to aim for a Perfection that's abstract, distant, and frankly, not you.

Over time I've come to see like as like a series of rivers and streams and lakes, things flowing in and out, back and forth.  There's nothing perfect to get to except perhaps the lovely and reliable flow of water – and that you can't "have" but just enjoy.

Perfection will always leave you unhappy.  Being alive on the other hand is the only place to find happiness, and life, fortunately, is not Perfect.

– Steven Savage