Is perfection a goal worth striving for?

I watch, fascinated, as the tiny gymnast moves through her flawless routine. The ball flies into the air, then returns to her as if by magnet. It rolls around her graceful movements that flow with the fluid motion of the orb. She leaps, folds to the floor, the ball lands in the crook of her neck. The audience knows they have just witnessed a rare moment of perfection, after a stunned silence they rise as one, to applaud the delicate figure who has shared this moment with them.

This is the moment of glory the gymnast has worked her whole life to achieve. The agonizing hours, the childhood sacrificed, the injuries endured, all to achieve this goal and now that it has been achieved… where does it leave her?

When she performs again the audience will expect nothing but perfection. Perfection can be set as a goal, it can be worked towards with dedication, sacrifice and immense self-discipline, but all this will not guarantee the perfect moment. Some, despite their dedication, will never achieve it.

But what of the ones that do?

The audience fades away, the congratulations die down and the adrenaline is slowly dispelled from the body. Then back to the rehearsals and the grinding work routine, but now with the knowledge that nothing but perfection will ever be good enough again. Does the performer now work doubly hard; is she pushed by those that mind her to greater heights? Yes of course, but will she ever achieve perfection again? Perfection cannot be planned; it is a magic trick of time and space.

Perhaps that is why sports people who reach perfection turn to drugs, as they know that, which no one else will confess to, some moments cannot be forgotten, can never be relived and can never be improved upon.

There is perhaps advantage in striving for less public moments of perfection, that are more varied and therefore not as heartbreaking. Perhaps happiness lies not in the creation of perfection, but the ability to recognize it in a cloud, a flower, or in a tiny breeze that by a minute shift in direction carries with it a delicate perfume of blossoms that herald spring.

A small perfect moment, but enough to carry a smile for a day.

To read more of my thinking


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