“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” ~Proverb
There are so many reasons to think that we, as humanity, have far to go to reach a certain stage of happiness. Yet with every step we take toward a “golden future,” we seem to take two steps backward.
Our demand for technological advancement causes great stress upon the Earth: Medical achievements aim to eliminate ailments, but serve as crutches for our poor health choices; and we push ourselves to reach great heights of “success,” which then fuels our self-rejection because we think we aren’t good enough.
In this sense, our progress tricks us into always wanting something else to cure our unhappiness. I know this because I feel it and live it every day, as many of us do.
I, too, am guilty of wanting a picture-perfect prosperous future—two dogs, a classy and purposefully minimalist apartment in the perfect area of a snazzy city, and a really awesome electric car.
In fact, I have become so entrenched with figuring out how to become rich using my creative skills that I’ve begun to forget the very goal that fueled my original desire for success.
I wanted to get rich and help others live—at the very least—comfortably and happily.
I’ve forgotten my dream, the original dream, in response to my desire for “the good life.”
I’ve forgotten that my life is already beautiful and amazing as it is. My desire for things that I thought would make me feel happier actually made me lose sight of the one thing that really would help me feel happy and fulfilled.
In the same way, humanity thinks it needs to constantly evolve so that maybe someday, old age and sickness will be eradicated from existence. However, our folly isn’t the goal of a life without suffering; it’s our assumption that life can exist without suffering.
In other words, we can never not suffer.
Okay, great—that’s what I really needed to hear today, Chad. Thanks for nothing.
Wait a second: Take a look back at the proverb above and ponder it for a moment. “A beautiful thing is never perfect.” Isn’t that a freeing thought?
Beauty is not perfection; life is not without suffering; and a piece of writing can never be flawless.
What, then, are we reaching for? Is it the attainment of perfection, or rather the eradication of what we think is not perfect?
Our quest to eliminate the negatives only ends up destroying our well-being.
Think about it this way: Could you ever know what laughing was without ever crying? Or could you ever really enjoy a delicious meal having never tasted something putrid?
It’s impossible to have a positive without its negative. We must know the negative to appreciate the positive in the first place.
Don’t despair, though; this is not a blog about how life is imperfect and filled with suffering. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, if you’ll bear through the first disheartening fact that nothing will ever be perfect.
The truth is that life can never be what you imagine is “perfect” simply because “perfection” is a concept, not a reality.
“Perfection” does not exist—we made it up. “Perfection” does not naturally occur in reality because we define it as infinitely better than all else. The reality is that nothing is able to attain “perfection,” but everything can be utterly amazing, beautiful, and awesome.
You are beautiful because you are alive, thinking, and smiling (or perhaps frowning)—you are amazing simply because you exist.
Does this mean that we should not strive to help others, or continue to make progress? Not at all, for when you truly see the imperfection of reality and realize how incredibly beautiful it is, your love for the universe and everything in it will energize an innate compassion from deep within.
Unconditional love and happiness will blossom without you even trying to water its flower.
If we all realized that we don’t need to push ourselves for perfection, would there be war, greed, or jealousy, as we know them today?
If this isn’t enough to help you avoid an existential meltdown, take a look at something as simple as your own hand. See the curves, lines, and colors? They’re beautiful, the organic structures of life, aren’t they?
Is any curve, line, or color “perfect”? No, because they are all perfectly imperfect, and that’s what makes it so profoundly beautiful.
It’s like Ken Watanabe’s dying line in The Last Samurai. On the verge of death, Katsumoto looks up at the cherry blossoms surrounding the battlefield one last time and realizes, “Perfect… They are all perfect.”
Sometimes when we search for perfection we end up realizing the opposite is true: That there is no perfection to be found or attained.
The goal, then, isn’t to eradicate what isn’t beautiful or pleasurable, or what we see as flawed, but rather to embrace life in all its aspects—both positive and negative—in the understanding that life is neither black nor white, good nor bad, and so on.
Life is beautiful because it is a controlled yet chaotic dance of ups and downs where we are blessed with the ability to sense those pains and pleasures equally.
And that is why we hear phrases like, “It’s all about perception,” or, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Unconditional happiness, compassion, and love are found within this simple truth that a beautiful thing never was, and never will be perfect.
Photo by Joel Olives
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