by Patrick McNerthney

Much to my dismay and horror I realize that I, in my old age, have become something I find absolutely deplorable: A Perfectionist.

No. NO! It can’t be. I’ve only worn t-shirts and pants with a drawstring waistband for the past seven months, and before that shorts. I rarely shave and my Subaru makes horrendous noises when I drive it. I can’t be a perfectionist.

But here’s the evidence: The other day I was supposed to give a (virtual) speech to celebrate the opening of an art gallery for a creative community I follow. A gala, of sorts. Granted, we were all just going to be staring at each other in those little square frames Zoom puts you in, likely looking un-showered, fatigued and over all quite slovenly (or maybe that’s just me).

While I agreed to do this speech about a month ago, the organizers had yet to decide on a final date for the event. I figured I would have plenty of time to come up with something. Then, to my surprise, I found out on a Wednesday that the speech was “due” the coming Saturday.

This just wasn’t going to work. You see, my wife plans out various activities for “us” 120 days in advance, down to the nanosecond. Between work and what we had going on Saturday I decided there was no way I would be able to write and deliver this speech. Because the timing wasn’t perfect, see? And thus my speech wasn’t going to be perfect.

(My new formal wear.)

But perfect never applies to anything – we don’t hire perfect employees (despite our best attempts), our vacations aren’t perfect, nor are the pictures we draw or the meals we cook… In fact, waiting for perfect (or in my case not doing something because I fear it will not be perfect) is simply succumbing to our fears. It’s an excuse for inaction. “Perfect,” is the perfect way to hide, avoid mistakes and shun tension.

                                                                                       (Secretly I’m terrified of this.)

Flexibility, rather than perfection is the goal. It’s a much better posture for building, teaching, creating and doing things that may not turn out how we expect – because things never turn out exactly as we expect.

Cue the pandemic: It’s been incredibly challenging to fight the negative effects of social isolation this past year, both for those we care for, and for ourselves. Undoubtedly there have been moments of frustration as our plans fell apart – perhaps even resulting in abandoning  ideas we had to make things better, because we were holding them to the standard of “perfect.”

But when we accept that perfect is a journey rather than a destination, we are better able to stretch to do our best in the face of uncertainty. In fact, we probably come up with better, more creative solutions to problems when we approach them through the lens of “…let’s see if this works” rather than “…this has to be perfect or we’re not doing it.”

Fine Art Miracles offers flexible tools you can use to create a new environment your residents can explore; one where they can experience the joy of making, without the pressure of perfection. Virtual: Art Lessons, Music Therapy, Dance & Movement Therapy; and ART2GO packages are fantastic ways to engage the mind and body, share insights, reflect on the past and show a sense of mastery – all while reminding us that mastery can be less than perfect.

If you have any questions or you need more information, please contact us. We’d love to help start this incredibly fun, imperfect journey!

Now, you’ll have to excuse me.  I need to shave and buy a collared shirt or something. I have a speech to give.


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