So I like perfect things too much.
Not that I’m a perfectionist, because I’m not. Most things in my life aren’t, and don’t have to be, perfect. (So—take a look around if you’re dubious about this.)
With that said, it is also true that something needs to be perfect. Somethings, rather. A few things. A few precious, clung-to things that are the things that I idolize, fetishize, romanticize, etc.
I suppose this is idol worship, these things taking the place of God(s), who were the original object(s) of perfection in individual human lives.
© Aron Hsiao / 2017
But whatever the sin, it remains true that I fumble endlessly to keep a few items from the ideal plane laying around on my desk, and so on. This can look like compulsion. Watch gets a scratch and I am suddenly überbugged until I can sit down for ten minutes and polish and refinish it out, so that things are back to right with the world, e.g. a watch without scratches. Because that watch is one of my perfect things, a little piece of evidence that it is not necessarily the case that everything must, in the end, suck.
Only… everything must, in the end, suck. Okay, maybe that’s putting it harshly, but at the same time, the disappointment that is intrinsic to life can be overwhelming. So much potential.
There is a memory stirring in my mind about that phrase, “so much potential.” I can’t place it. I’m almost positive that either I read it in a novel (A character who said, perhaps, that there was nothing on earth worse than having lots of potential?) or a heard a friend say that once.
I remember being only slightly moved by the thought, but now, at this particular moment, it has the ring of utter truth about it. Potential, an ideation, a human invention, a bit of mist hanging in the air, is the thing that soils everything. If only there were no potential, there would only be what is and it would be fine.
That’s Buddhism in a nutshell, no?
So… perfect things. Yes, have to have a few, and have to maintain them. And this is a complete waste of time and money. And an absolute necessity, no matter what else is going on in my life. No perfection anywhere? Throw in the towel time.
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I know where it was. It’s a quite from Linus, in Peanuts.
The day he died, I went out and bought ten copies of the local daily newspaper with the headline, plus a couple of New York Times editions, and filed them away. I still have them somewhere here. Every now and then I stumble across them and wonder what I’ll do with them.
I don’t ever give them place of prominence or hang them on the wall or anything like that, however, because in time they’ve yellowed and wrinkled. They’re no longer perfect.
And if I’m going to hang a headline about the death of a comic artist on my wall (and have to answer the inevitable questions that follow), it needs to be perfect.
But I don’t throw them away—I have the vague idea that newspaper leaf, like everything else, is in principle restorable to perfection—that is to say, ever perfectable…
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