The Deception of Perfection

notes from Janey . . .

No one wants to fail, but let’s face it, we all do. Trying things
beyond our current abilities gives us perhaps a 50/50 chance of
success. Failure is an indispensable ingredient in this stew called
“Being Human.” Along with heaping amounts of other essential
ingredients, it helps life remain delicious.

Few things turn out perfectly the first time around, and the
sooner we learn this the better off we’ll be. As Tupelo has said to
me many times (as if I need to be reminded), “You don’t have to get
it perfect – just get it going.”

I have a very talented friend who is often stymied into immobility
by thinking that whatever new thing she wants to try will not come
off like she envisions it, so why bother? This in turn frustrates
her, which fortunately spurs her into action. Once she gets over
the major huddle of expecting perfection, she forges ahead,
enjoying and surprising herself in the process.

Why do we sabotage ourselves into thinking we have to do it
perfectly the first time, or not at all? I’m a good one to talk.
When I try something new, I want to be great at it – right from the
git-go. No learning curve. No embarrassing outcomes. If it doesn’t
come easily, I have zero patience with myself. I drop it. Learning
to play the fiddle is a perfect example.

There have been exceptions to this self defeating behavior, of
course. Learning to do glasswork is one. During the mid-70’s while
living in Alaska, I started at zero and taught myself. My first
lumpy creations where destined for the dumpster before the lead
solder even had a chance to cool. But I loved the process. I loved
the medium.


I kept at it until I could create something I felt was
worthy of signing my name to it. After all these years, creating in
glass is still one of my major joys in life. Perfection is still
something I’m striving for, but I definitely don’t regret forging
through those hideous beginning projects or cutting my fingers to
get to where I am now.


But like I said, I usually want it to turn out great the first
time – and fast.

Tupelo, on the other hand, is a grand example of not letting the
deception of perfection get the upper hand. In those early years of
learning to play music together we rehearsed a lot, learning enough
tunes to get us through a night’s gig. It was during that time that
I found out he is living proof of what he believes: “You don’t have
to get it perfect – just get it going.”

There we would be – up on stage – things going along great – and
he would surprise me by starting a tune we barely knew. Neither one
of us knew the chords, or all the lyrics, or the arrangement. The
song was barely formed and far from stage ready. It didn’t matter.
He would charge on, acting as if he knew what he was doing. He’d
look over at me and laugh at the panic on my face.

“Come on, Janey, let’s try it,” he’d say.

“But we don’t know this song!” I’d gasp, seeing the audience’s
faces turned toward me.

“Who cares? We’ll find out how much we do know, won’t we?”

And away we’d go. Did we play it perfectly? Far from it. Was it
fun? You bet. Did I learn a good lesson? Unnervingly, yes. (I’m
still not used to it after all these years even though he still
does the same thing to me.)


So the next time you’re thinking of trying something new, but that
insidious, self-defeating thought of having to do it perfectly
worms its way between you and what you want to try, stop that
thought from getting a foothold on your self esteem. Get on with

Remember: “You don’t have to get it perfect, just get it going.”
I’ll try to do the same.

(Article and photos by Janey Wing Kenyon)

This is the end of the article entitled The Deception of Perfection published by Tupelo Kenyon on July 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm | In Uncategorized - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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