Perfection kills, that’s it. I could stop and make that the entire post, but I won’t. There is so much more to understand about this disease that we have gained. It comes down from the ancients and has embedded itself in our psyche to the point that we are demoralizing, demonizing, and destroying ourselves (and others) because we don’t reach it.
Idealizing the goals that we have, whether as artists, writers, scientists, roofers, whatevers, will destroy our ability to enjoy and better ourselves. It is the very act of striving for perfection that keeps us from becoming truly perfected. The only true “perfection” we can achieve is to love deeply.
Now that’s the summary. Are you interested enough to read more?
Well, first let me remind you that Raynna and I are working on a project that we hope to release soon. We hope to have it within the next few months, but we might still tease it here and there.
Also, if you haven’t caught up on our 14 (yes, it used to be 13) Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration here are the links: Wonder, Purposefulness, Friendship, Listening, Honesty, Studying, Rest, Encouraging, Doing the Work, Sketchbooking, Scribbling, Shipping, and Challenges,
I’ve collected all of the “Thirteen (Fourteen) Commitment” posts, so far, under one link. Please share them with the artists you know. You can find them here. (Note: I will be updating all sections to reflect the, now, Fourteen Commitments.)
Back to our topic at hand: our current culture is deeply influenced by the ancient Greeks, it’s in our governments, it’s in our obsession with body fitness, selfies, philosophies, religion, it’s everywhere. Now, I could spend the rest of this post telling you all about how we got here, but that’s not the purpose, and just researching a little will yield a lot. One of the unfortunate passings down to us is the concept of perfection. A lot of people will tell you it is religion’s (namely Christianity’s) fault. In part this is true, but that’s only once Christianity became influenced by the Greek culture.
At its core, Christianity (when you peel the onion of tradition) has Jewish ideals of “perfection”. These ideals are expressed in completion. Better said, it is the idea that we are growing into what we are supposed to become. It is like bread that, when all ingredients are combined, grows and becomes a loaf. It is complete, perfect, not without dent or dip, rather it has become itself. Here’s where this really came alive for me—the passages below, a discourse on love. One discourse, two different accounts of it. I think they explain each other.
Here’s the first account:
“…’I say to you, Love your enemies … so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven … For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? … And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? … You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43–48 ESV)
Here’s the second:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? … And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? … But love your enemies, … and you will be sons of the Most High … Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:32–36 ESV)
So, in a discourse on love, Jesus speaks about perfection. In the same discourse in a different book of the Bible he speaks about mercy (compassion). So according to Jesus, perfection and mercy are the same thing.
In his famous love chapter in the Bible Paul writes about the perfect coming (it’s a journey, a growing, a recipe). Each of these things are dealing with being complete—whole. Love is the ideal of a true Bible-based perfection—it isn’t shimmery oiled up bodies, perfect hair or status.
Now to connect all of this: it isn’t art without wrinkle, writing without hole, equations without typo, roofs without leaks. It is passion working together with the journey toward wholeness.
When we remove the pristine perfection concept from our measuring instruments, not only will we become more forgiving of others—we will be able to do the harder part of forgiving and accepting ourselves.
Now, I haven’t perfected this removal (wink wink)… I am on a journey to better accept my weaknesses and mistakes. Not only that, but I am finding that these things often make me who I am.
Don’t let perfection rob your joy, your passion, your love. Let love inform and mold your journey toward becoming better. We become better in the journey so we can become whole. We work to gather in all of the ingredients of this life and grow toward who we were created to be. So that we can pour out that wholeness, perfection, on others—for others. This is why Biblical perfection will always make us humble, true, and loving.
To fight against my own perfectionism I challenged myself to 30 days of ink only drawing. It’s been awful. I have two days left.
The guidelines I put on myself are: I can use watercolor and any other form of non-erasable media. These are my attempts at arting without a safety net.
Handbook Sketch Book
At first I didn’t like this book, but it is the one I am using for the 30 days of no pencil and it has grown on me. The main difference between the HandBook and Moleskine is the waxy pages. This has a subtle but pleasant texture and I think I might be hooked.
“Hand-book Trav-e-logue Drawing Book 8-1/4-Inch by 5-1/2-Inch, Large Portrait in Ivory Black contains 128 acid-free pages of heavyweight buff drawing paper. The paper has a good tooth which makes it an excellent choice for drawing and sketching work. The hand-bound cover has just the right flexibility. Great for pen and ink, pencil and markers. It accepts light watercolor washes without buckling. It has a durable elastic closure and a very useful clear envelope tucked inside the back cover. The perfect journal for artists on the go.”
RECENT GOOD READ:
Comparison is the Thief of Joy (a Tattoo)
by Gina Sutphin
“The following year I attended my second Hutchmoot. I found myself in a session by Jeffrey Overstreet. He began by saying “I have a friend who has a tattoo. It reads “Comparison is the thief of joy.” That is exactly what I had allowed. I have to work at things that are seemingly effortless for Joe, so I had stopped seeing my talents as valuable in comparison to his. I had let my own attitude defeat myself. This was a reality check I needed. I’m sure there are others out there that need it as well, so I’m opening up our world for a little glimpse inside to show you that you are not alone.”
I didn’t mean for there to be so long between my last post and this one, but I’m trying to follow my own advice and jump in where I left off.
Have a great week everyone. Create, be happy, create more,
P.S. As I mentioned earlier, Raynna and I have been concocting something that we’re hoping to announce soon, make sure you’re subscribed if you want to hear first. Thanks for being here everyone!
Also, Subscribe to get the free one page PDF: Fourteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration. My wife and I have packed it full for you.
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