“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” ~Michealangelo

My hands were black, dried out and sore. I never wear gardening gloves.

“Don’t ask me to do this again!” I laughed. Three hours of weeding and de-cluttering a stranger’s garden convinced me that this was not my cup of tea. I can work in my own garden, like I can play with my own children. Just don’t ask me to weed yours. We’ll disagree on the degree of doneness. I promise. But it’s yours so we’ll do it your way.

“Wanna see the rest of the gardens?” my mom cajoled. We’d stayed in the front of the house, heads down, rarely talking because she had her garden bed and I had mine.

“Sure,” I said as I straightened my back inch by painful inch. I’d  dug and pulled and thrown weeds, sticks ad leaves onto a tarp while sitting on the grass, and then, to add insult to injury, I ended the job by  lugging the million pound tarp to the side of the house for future pick-up from the pick-up guys. How did she do this every day? Why did she come back for more? Well, wasn’t coming back, but I didn’t mind taking a tour of the torturous grounds.

Yes, that’s what they were in my eyes now. Work.

“Remind me of this when I design my own yard. It’s so much to care for!”

We made our way around the house, calculating the hours, days and weeks of work for two people to finish.  The gardens kept going and going, and I quickly got overwhelmed. There were brown, decaying leaves under ivy, Vinca and Pachysandra that had to be painstakingly removed without hurting the plants, as well as  weeds that were growing out of control under them.

I watched my thoughts and tried to reconcile the perfection I saw with the request for a more perfect perfection – one that required unending scheduling with Mother Nature, always trying to beat her clock before ours timed out.

I would have left the leaves. I didn’t see them until I was told that they were on the “to do” list of the unwelcome and unwanted.

It bothered me that I saw them as bothersome whereas before they were just there.

I have no idea how to put into words what I learned today unless I compare the garden I worked in with two of my children right before they stepped into their bath tonight.

Every inch of them was smelly and dirty. They laughed and wrestled, racing to the bathroom and into the water. Washable and faded tatoos covered their bellies and arms. Dirt had settled in ears and nostrils and belly buttons. I scooped up the dirty laundry and brought it to the cellar as they splashed and played.

When they were done and wrapped in towels, they took off screaming, looking for clean clothes while I drained the tub and watched perfection float down towards the drain.

I was reminded of this quote which I’ll add to our ponderings:

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Perhaps what I’m seeing is a life well-lived and how to underschedule it so that it can be enjoyed? Maybe I just see that some things are perfect just the way they are and shouldn’t be messed with. Cleaned up once in a while…maybe.

Do you know what I mean? What do I mean? Someone please explain it to me!



9 thoughts on “Perfection

  1. It’s a mind-bender! LOL!
    I understand the need to “uncover” intrinsic beauty. I understand the value of training our eyes and spirits to see the beauty within a person or a thing. And I also understand bringing out the best in someone or something over time as he/she/it grows and reveals more of himself that was waiting to be discovered.
    What I struggle with is how easy it is to want more and better- spending time fixing something /someone who isn’t broken instead of “enjoying the dirt and the weeds, ” the qualities that make them THEM.
    Words! They are so limiting! LOL! Thanks for reading, Stan. Have a good one!

  2. Betsy, very interesting post and quotes. And I agree with you, sometimes some things just “shouldn’t be messed with.” I’m a dirt and weed lover and I believe that everything natural is in a state of perfection. ANd when we, as humans, attempt perfection, it’s an intellectual process of reordering and decision-making, using what we have at hand: be it perfecting our character or landscaping our backyard. Sometimes it’s an unending process (like our character), other times it’s a completely subjective decision based on taste, intuition, experience, and such. Thanks for brightening my Monday morning with this thought-provoking post! Have a great week. 🙂

    • Wow, Terre! What a great comment! You know, after contemplating things for a while I think I have to stick to what I know – what my life experiences have taught me about myself: I have a hard time with correction. And I’ve come to accept that that’s a reaction to someone who’s leading me to go outside of my comfort zone to grow. And that’s a GOOD thing. I’m learning to watch my reactions to any sort of criticism. On the other hand I know ho much I love to be valued and loved for who and how I show up in someone’s world, quirks and all. Thanks, Terre, for your insightful comment! Have a good one, too!

      • Thanks, Betsy! It sounds like your approach is a healthy one. We all have challenges regarding criticism to different degrees, but recognizing the growth potential of being shifted from your comfort zone is the perfect way to approach it. And when it comes to personality, I’ve learned at least two things: no one will be liked by everyone–but that really is of no consequence–and personal quirks are the things that enrich our lives and the world. In fact, you could almost say that quirks are a prerequisite for being unique individuals. So cheers to eccentricity!

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