Γηράσκω δ’ αἰεὶ πολλὰ διδασκόμενος.
I grow old ever learning many things. — Solon of Athens.
For as long as I can remember I’ve fought against a perpetual ideal, the constant striving and constant self critical cycle of wanting to be the best at something ( or die trying??) and missing out on what my failures are teaching me in order to become better.
Well Yes “No one is perfect.”
We are taught at a very young age to strive for betterment, perfection, ideal, the “best” of something and at something. We fight for grades, we pull all nighters to get a degree, we deprive ourselves of comfort, sleep, and sanity to reach a higher goal and achievement. And when our flaws are pointed out to us or we fail at something we tried, so hard for, we repeat ourselves its ok… “Well… no one is perfect”. And often we give up.
Yet, perfection or the attaining of it in its original form is a flawed premise. It defeats the purpose of a teachable moment, its gives us an excuse to stay focused on an unattainable unreachable ideal rather than the beauty of constantly improving and learning from our own imperfection. We have to keep saying : it’s ok I suck at this and I’m not good enough right now, but I won’t give up”. We give in to this ideal in our minds, yet perfection isn’t what we should be aiming for in the first place.
Of course no one is perfect. There is no such thing.
Perfection isn’t the point. It’s the mastery, improving, evolving and learning from our mistakes. Perfection is a fallacy, it’s a mirage. And those who battle with perfection, reaching it, attaining it or embodying it, are losing on the beauty and necessity of imperfection.
One of my favorite Ashtanga Yoga teachers is in my eyes absolutely perfect. He is my ideal practitioner and teacher. He is kind, loving, supportive, funny and a really cool dude, as well as probably the most accomplished Ashtanga Yoga teachers worldwide. I credit a lot of my teaching ethics to him ( I won’t say his name cause that’s not the point). Yet one day, during a workshop I was attending, this seemingly perfect teacher with all the answers, said that he still struggles with a pose I find absolutely excruciatingly difficult, even though it’s not considered that challenging.
And I felt a wave of irony and laughter filling my lungs.
What??? This guy is not perfect? He has flaws, he struggles with poses, but he’s like a god! And all of a sudden, the way I saw my own practice and of course my whole relationship with yoga changed. I no longer aspired to be the best most perfect practitioner of all time, (which wasn’t a realistic goal to begin with) but to be the most empathetic, supportive, driven, and disciplined I could be with all my physical flaws and imperfections.
Let’s be honest; when someone tells you “well you’re not perfect… but….” run far away. Because perfection is stagnancy and a bad excuse for not trying harder, not evolving and improving on what you already have. Perfection as a measure of character is also unrealistic and this pervasive thought that if you’re not perfect you aren’t good enough; isn’t helpful for betterment.
Challenging our boundaries, finding ways to advance our craft, our selves, our way of thinking means fully accepting that we’re all works in progress, constantly improving and learning.
We will never reach perfection and that is just perfect.