Many years ago, a very wise man told me something that I have never forgotten. After I graduated from college, I moved back home to find a job and save some money until my next great adventure came along. The first weekend I was home, I attended Mass with my family at our church. Our pastor, Father Paul (now Monsignor Dudziak), welcomed me home and asked me how it felt to be a college graduate. I told him that it felt good but not great because I had graduated magna cum laude and not summa cum laude and had missed the higher honor by less than a tenth of a percentage point. Father Paul nodded without comment and then asked me to follow him. When we reached the altar he pointed to the floor and asked me “Do you see this carpet?” I nodded, unsure of why he was asking, and he continued. “This carpet has handmade by Persian monks. It took months, maybe years, because it was intricately planned and woven by hand. They are experts at making rugs and create the finest works of art. However, in every rug they make, they always weave into it a mistake.” He looked at me and asked, “Do you know why?” I shook my head, and he replied, “Only God is perfect.” Humbled, I blushed and nodded.
Do I still strive for perfection? Every. Single. Day. And every day I am reminded, in some way, that I will never achieve perfection. And you know what? That’s okay. The French playwright, Pierre Corneille, once said “we never taste happiness in perfection, our most fortunate successes are mixed with sadness.” While we all try to be perfect and live a perfect life, don’t we all feel much more accomplished and successful when we’ve faced failure and risen above it? And who is to say what a perfect life is? Many would have said that Robin Williams had the perfect life, but alas, he did not think it true.
As Father Paul pointed out to me those many years ago, humans are not perfect, and we never will be. Michelangelo said “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” A perfect sunset? Yes. The perfect novel? Probably not. While we all should try to attain perfection in our lives so as to be worthy of the life God has given to us, we will all fail over and over again. That is how we learn and grow and become the person we are meant to be. So I will continue to work towards perfection as I journey through life, but I will remember that I will, and must, make mistakes along the way. For as the great novelist Margaret Atwood so truthfully said “If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”
Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.