Perfection? Good luck with that

Daviot Kelly
Daviot Kelly

August 11, 2020

Share via

Share on facebook
Share on twitter

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.

― Leo Tolstoy, from the novel Anna Karenina

There’s a scene from the finale of the first season of a series named The Missing.
In the series, the character Tony Hughes (brilliantly played by James Nesbitt) and his ex-wife search for their son, who disappeared years before when they were still married.
Spoiler alert. Tony gets ‘proof’ of what really happened to his son. But he still searches for more answers. The closing scene of his eyes, while he is in the back of a police car, is chilling.
I think the poor fellow had gone mad. Literally. He snapped while striving for something that he probably was not going to find, literally or figuratively.
Well, that’s kind of where I am sometimes. Not in the back of a police car, God forbid. But I’m stuck in searching and pressing on for something that is impossible to achieve, at least in this life.
I’m talking about perfection. It simply does not exist. And yet this moron keeps fighting to get it.
I remember the first Kelly’s World I wrote. It had a glaring error in it. Well, you might not consider it glaring. But it was glaring enough that someone felt the need to call the newspaper about it.
It was a simple enough fact that I should have checked. Mea culpa. Just didn’t think there was anything to check. It happens.
And yet, about 14 years later, it still ticks me off. I had a column in the Flair, so I should have felt proud of myself. I didn’t, because of that one error.
I have the mentality sometimes that if it’s not perfect, then it’s trash. That’s not healthy because like I said, perfection does not exist.
Now, it doesn’t mean that one should not attempt to do things as properly as possible. On the contrary, you should always aim for that. It just means that if, scrap that, when you do make a mistake, you don’t fall to pieces.
The issue is I think I’m just looking at perfection from the wrong angle. Perhaps I should consider perfection like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in the Airman’s Odyssey adventure series.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
So give it your best, whatever ‘it’ happens to be. Take the constructive criticism and learn, take the plaudits without getting haughty, and tell di unnecessarily picky to ‘chuck off’.
Ah, but for some people, like me, that’s easier said than done. I’ve always felt like more was expected of me than others.
So 73 per cent was ‘good’. It certainly wasn’t celebrated, even if everybody else in class averaged 58. Want to make my ears bleed? Just say “I thought you would have known better.”
It can spur me to work harder. But it can also feel like a burden when I know I have worked hard and tried my best.
Sigh. Hopefully, one day I will finally realise that there is no perfection. Now, that would be perfect.

Link me at

Daviot Kelly


Daviot Kelly

Daviot Kelly describes mumbling and fumbling as two of his greatest obstacles in life, but not when it comes to penning his weekly column, Kelly’s World. A wizard with the pen, Kelly has been sharing his wit and unique perspective with the Flair since 2006.

Join our newsletter

Related articles