The Pearl, vol. 86: Perfection will do you in

Dear Oysters,

I got back from meditation retreat more than three weeks ago. A week of silent practice, bookended by sweet time with my Dad and stepmom. These should have been the perfect circumstances to write to you—the ideal, gritty conditions that yield a Pearl. And yet each time I considered writing, the keyboard seemed too cold to approach. 

The truth is, I'm a little more discerning about what I send you than I once was, Oysters. You're a pretty smart crew, all told. I can't just squeeze something out for the sake of it. You'll notice. 

With my reticence, I'm also protecting myself. What if the deepest, most important little Pearls aren't ready to share yet? What if they need to take a few more spins around inside the shell, growing bigger and brighter and more sure? 

Apparently it's a fine line between pompous productiveness and paralyzed perfectionism.

Speaking of which. Here's a beautiful poem I encountered while reading Krista Tippett's latest book, Becoming Wise. It's by Father Kilian McDonnell. 

Perfection, Perfection

I have had it with perfection.
I have packed my bags,
I am out of here.
Gone.

As certain as rain
will make you wet,
perfection will do you
in.

It droppeth not as dew
upon the summer grass
to give liberty and green
joy.

Perfection straineth out
the quality of mercy,
withers rapture at its
birth.

Before the battle is half begun,
cold probity thinks
it can't be won, concedes the
war.

I've handed in my notice,
given back my keys,
signed my severance check, I
quit.

Hints I could have taken:
Even the perfect chiseled form of
Michelangelo's radiant David
squints,

the Venus de Milo
has no arms,
the Liberty Bell is
cracked.

 

This morning, I sat outside in my backyard, meditating. I sat on a somewhat dilapidated wooden bench, facing a stagnant little man-made pond, which hasn't been "turned on" in weeks and has a layer of green scum growing on its the surface. The late rush-hour traffic whizzed along Piney Branch Road, just behind our rickety wooden fence. My iPhone timer ticked down from 30 minutes. I only sat for 20. A delicious breeze tickled the leaves of the sycamore tree next door, and I carried my cushion back inside. 

It was good enough.

May we delight in the present moment and be free from perfectionism. Also, may I take my own advice, and may the fruits of this advice include writing y'all a little more consistently. :) 

xo,

Ellen