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The Quest for Perfection

Hall of Imperfect Pixels
photo credit: Lance Shields

The quest for perfection is admirable, at least in theory, but have you ever wondered what it would really change if you were “perfect”?

The movie Equilibrium shows Libria, a future world without war, without anger, without conflicts. Can you imagine that? Looks like a perfect world.

A world of perfection

Lots of people spend their lives trying to be better, to attain perfection. Some don’t want to show their weaknesses and spend a considerable amount of energy trying to appear perfect, never say the wrong word, nor take too many risks. Being perfect is, in practice, equivalent to making no mistakes. And what’s the easiest way to never make any mistake? Always follow the rules scrupulously, never lead, never challenge anything, be invisible, don’t feel anything.

Follow the rules

When you follow the rules without thinking about them, you just “do your job”, and as you bury your compassion and anger, someday you don’t feel them anymore.

In Libria, after the population was decimated by the Third World War, the world realized that war, hatred, adultery, murder and all the sins of humankind had roots in the capacity to feel, so they decided to suppress it with mandatory drugs. Without the capacity to feel, every human being can be civilized, obeying the rules and wishes of the powers that be.

Following the rules in order to attain perfection means to relinquish our emotions and the connections with ourselves.

Creativity and perfection

Art makes us feel, makes us question what is, and envision what could be. The whole creative process is an insult to perfectionism (aka the inner critic). That’s why art is illegal in Libria, as its only presence makes us question the status quo, the laws and the concept of perfection.

A life of rules and perfection

Some people might be able to live their lives blindly following orders (and even add and follow rules of their own), hoping to be perfect. But not everybody can, and if you’re still reading, I’m sure you can’t. But even if you could, would you really want to? There is a moment in time when rules have to be questioned, and you have to detach yourself from them, if only to reconsider whether you want to follow other people’s rules or make your own. Being a simple cog in a big machine isn’t very fun, or fulfilling.


If you spend your energy trying to be perfect, all you’re gonna do is try to control yourself and your environment, draining your energy and creating a huge load of stress. Those who always want to be perfect, even though they deny it, tend to also want everything around them to be perfect, and they complain when it’s not. Have you ever heard someone (or yourself), complaining about something they have absolutely no control on? Like the weather? It is completely pointless, but the complaint itself shows a need to assert control over these events.

When you let go of control, and accept to feel again what it is to be human, everything changes.

Our natural state is one of creative imperfection

For a baby, the concept of rules doesn’t exist, a baby just want to discover the world, how they can interact and create things that matter and make them feel good. Along the way we learn what rules are, and how to follow them; but most of the time, it is for the sake of society, and of those in control, very rarely for our own gain.

If we stopped trying to be so perfect all the time, we could regain that innocence, that desire to be curious and creative. A perfect human is an imperfect machine. Why would you want to be something you’re not?

Forget perfection

The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.
George Eliot

Perfection only exists as a fulfillment and strict application of rules. No rules, no perfection. In order to touch perfection, one has to exert extreme control over their actions as to never risk disobeying orders (or what are implicit orders, like following the crowd). Not only is it boring, but it is also a sure way to destroy creativity, put your intuition in a cage and send fun in exile in a galaxy far, far away (where it stays untouched and lonely).

But on the other hand, if you set a goal to be as imperfect as you could be, now you can be real, you can ask questions, wonder what could be, and finally show your genius to the world. You might want to rebel against the system, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. As in Equilibrium, a war against the system might just be what you need to change the status quo. And if there is anything that doesn’t feel right for you in the world, why wouldn’t you want to change it?

You can start right now, if you ask yourself this simple question: how can you imperfect today?