I am a recovering perfectionist.
I won’t start a project until I know I can execute it with exquisiteness. If excellency is not achievable there is no point starting - I have already failed.
To combat the anxiety that is perfectionism, I often retreat to the woods. I find solace in the trees. Their impeccable patience and untainted acceptance are perfect peace for me. On this day, I was struck by the dead branches protruding from the stately towers and the piles of decaying debris at their feet.
Each branch represents something not completed to perfection. Each limb, abandoned along the journey. Perhaps great effort was exerted stretching towards a perfect patch of sunlight just to have it swallowed by another tree. Maybe the heart of a particularly beautiful dream broke and fell before ever coming to fruition. Failure and brokenness line the timeline of each tree, yet they continue upward, unashamedly displaying the scars of past failures.
And then, as usual, nature does something beautiful. Blankets of green moss comfort the broken, bugs scurry to tend the wounds. Fungi soften the hardened layers and bloom in honour of death and renewal. Leafy specimens find a home with an otherwise unattainable view and birds flit from failure to broken dream, celebrating abundance.
What if the trees had never failed? That would be a forest to behold! Tall pillars, unscarred by disappointment, armoured with perfection where only the biggest and tallest survive – like a concrete jungle...
Is it possible that living as a perfectionist is an act of selfishness? Without broken and fallen branches the forest floor would be sapped of its riches - lifeless. The canopy - sparse, no longer offering refuge for its inhabitants.
If we never lose, where do we find room to grow? If never in need, do we understand giving in a truly unselfish way? Without heartbreak can we unearth empathy for those splintering around us? If nothing is cut away, how can we ever be refined?
The forest is a mess…it truly is! Yet there is a peace there, found nowhere else on the planet.
Perhaps, because its inhabitants have not only learned to live despite imperfection but thrive because of it.