Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Loneliness of Perfection

I know someone who can’t stand community concerts.

I think that is a darned shame.

Community concerts and theater are what community is all about. People sharing something loved and lived, like music and stagecraft, with people who want to receive the gift, whether they be friends, Romans or country folk.

This someone I know is all tangled up in perfection. Perfection is a really difficult place to live. There isn’t really a whole lot of wiggle-room where perfection is concerned. Dealing in perfection means dealing heavily in value judgment and criticism. I sometimes think that dealing in perfection means not having much of a good time.

When I participate in or attend a community event, I do my best to meet the event where it is. I find it tiring to go to such events and be handed commentary by others on what is wrong with it, or how it could be done better. I’d like to make up my own mind. And, if I am enjoying the event, I don’t particularly want to be talked out of it.

I mean, we all know it could be done better. But we would have to drive a long way to see it done to near perfection by professionals who get paid to do it and belong to unions and have salaries with benefits, wouldn’t we? That can be a very worthwhile experience, and it has its place. Everyone should set aside time and finances to invest in what promises to be a sublime experience. (Promises are no guarantee, but sublime experiences are out there, and they can be fabulous, uplifting, even life-altering. Sometimes, however, we discover that perfection is not sublime, but bland.)

At home, we might be able to walk to the event. At home, we might pay less or even nothing. At home, we would see and hear the results of people, even some with whom we are acquainted, putting their whole heart into their offering. At home, there would be a reception afterward with snacks and fellowship, kids running around under foot, and friendly conversation with friends and neighbors.

Art, music, theater—these modes of expression are explorations of what is possible. If perfection were the point of it all, no one would do anything.

People who are brave enough to give it a go deserve their shot at the limelight. Friends, family, and those few others of us that blunder in are waiting to see what the brave ones can do. Amazing things can happen here, also. The unexpected richness of a girl’s voice can reach out to you from the choral texture with a solo lick. You might discover the hidden instrumental talent of a young man whose parents you know. Small delights can rise from the texture and touch you.

Perfectionists may be outstanding in their respective fields—or they might just be frozen from doing anything because it would have to be perfect—but I expect that many of them stand in their fields alone.

I say, come join the group! So it won’t be perfect; life isn’t perfect, is it?

We’re all in it together, anyway, so why not make it a celebration of people giving it a go.

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