“To walk a thorny road, we may cover its every inch with leather or we can make sandals.” – Indian parable.
Behind perfection, there is elaborate planning and preparation – to define every detail in a manner that maximizes our satisfaction. If we wished to cross a thorny field, it is analogous to paving a path with leather at enormous expense and effort.
But several things could go wrong here. The planning fallacy demonstrates that things seldom go according to plan. The more elaborate our plans, the more likely they are to fail. Life is random. The entropy of the universe keeps increasing. It is arrogant to expect the universe to subscribe to the the last detail of our plan.
Besides, once we invest all that effort into creating and crafting perfection, there is no guarantee that it would live up to our expectation. The part of our mind that synthesizes a perfect experience is reinforced when things go according to plan. And when our plans materialize, it starts creating its next plan the next perfect moment. Therefore, the ecstasy of peak moments like winning an Olympic medal, winning an Oscar or publishing a book are short-lived.
Perfection is fragile, because things do not go according to plan. And when they do, they do not live up to our expectations and only trigger other plans.
The alternative is acceptance. To accept the thorns on the road is to recognize them rather than to deny them. To use two small strips of leather and make sandals. To enjoy the journey and experience it as it is, rather than how we wish for it to be.
“The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom” – Tara Brach.
Inspiration: The Tyranny of the Perfect Life – Charles Chu