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Dorien Grey

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The Lazy Perfectionist
7/20/2009 3:13:22 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

A reflection on the elusive search for perfection.

From Dorien Grey and Me (http://www.doriengreyandme.com)


It’s hard enough, I’d imagine, to be a perfectionist under the best of conditions. But for me to aspire to perfection…as I continue to do despite stupefying amounts of evidence to the contrary, is a source of constant frustration and not a little bemusement. I know of many people who aspire to it, and a few who come relatively close. I’d like to think of myself as a perfectionist, but fall so far short of the goal I’ve just about given up.

I so want to be so many things, and might possibly even manage to come within a stellar nebula’s circumference of attaining one or two of them were it not for the unfortunate fact that I much prefer to wish for something than to work for it.

Laziness has been one of the banes of my life. Somewhere I have notes from teachers stretched over the years, all saying in effect the same thing: “Roger’s a relatively good student, but could be so much better if he just applied himself.”

I am sure that one of the reasons I was dropped from the NavCads was because I was simply too lazy to work at things. I remember with horror, now, that I never memorized the numbers of the various runways from which I was expected to take off and land…I merely followed the other planes. And one time I actually came within seconds of being killed when, during night flying exercises with a large number of other planes, we were carefully instructed to climb at a specific rate of speed, and to descend at another specific rate of speed. I got them confused and, in descending, suddenly saw the looming wing and tail lights of a plane directly in front of me. I pushed the stick forward just in time and looked up as I passed not more than 20 feet below the plane that had been in front of and was now directly above me. Luckily, being at night, no one who saw my stupidity could see my plane’s ID number and I was not reported, as I certainly should have been. (I hope, by the way, that you might be following my photoblog—http://www.doriengreyphotolife.blogspot.com — which includes pictures from my navy days.)

My total inability to grasp the workings of anything with moving parts or worse, should something go wrong with them, figuring out how to fix the problem, has provided me with endless frustration and resulted in childish fits of uncontrollable rage. But for those who say simply: “Well, did you check the manual?” my answer is invariably “No.” I once read the manual for a product made in China and was halfway through it before I realized it was written in Chinese. The English version made even less sense. I find it much easier just to have someone else do it for me, even if I have to pay them to do it.

And yet none of that stops me from demanding perfection of myself. The fact, again, that no one is perfect in no way keeps me from expecting it. It’s okay for you to make a mistake, or do or say something stupid, or something you wish you hadn’t done or said, but it is not all right for me, and I hold myself in contempt for being so flawed. One of my self-deprecating mantras is: “If I can’t do something well, I won’t do it at all.” And one side-effect of that is that my heart aches when I see someone who does do something well. And that they do what I cannot/will not fills me with envy and fuels the fires of self-loathing.

But I manage, somehow. I do what I can do, and take refuge in my own little world, wherein my Dorien side and the characters in my books can do all those things I cannot do. All in all, I consider it a fair trade.

* * *

Please come back next Monday for another entry. And your comments are always welcome either here or directly (doriengrey.att.net).


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