Imperfection is the new good life

Are you as exhausted as I am about trying to be perfect in every way?

Enough!

Let me start with foodie perfection.

I read a New York Times article that really sang to me. It’s titled, “A Question of Taste.”

The sub-head is this: “Perhaps lazy summer days simply conjure understatement, but suddenly, fancy kitchens and the hyper-styled meals they produce feel overcooked.”

Above the headline are photos of very un-updated kitchens.

I let out a huge exhale reading this and looking at the pictures. Exhaling at the idea that I can be happy with an OK kitchen, I can be happy with my not perfect body, not perfect hair, not perfect thoughts, not perfect home, life, relationships…..everything.

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Do you realize how much subtle (and not so subtle) pressure we’re under to be perfect in so many ways?

Let’s go back to foodie perfection.

I love a good meal, but I’m no foodie. In fact, I’m kinda sick of the term “foodie,” because it’s gotten ridiculous. What if I just want to relax and eat some regular, nothing fancy meal? What if I want to go to a restaurant and be able to recognize what’s on the plate?

What if my kitchen doesn’t have a fancy professional gas stove that’s bigger than all outdoors, signaling to guests that I am a super-foodie?

Enough already.

The New York Times article said:  

“After all, in a era that glorifies the dining experience, cooking has become a competitive sport, encumbered with high-tech accessories and bulky, gleaming tools. Home cooks quake, cowed by the new heights of cuisine they assume are de rigueur – molecular this, quinoa that, no dish showing its face before it’s fit for Instagramming.

“Even on vacation, you’ve got to eat, and in all probability that means at some stage, whether as a host or guest, rising at dawn or cutting short a sunny afternoon to toil over a hot stove, get meals on and set the table.”

And so on.

Don’t get me wrong. I happen to love quinoa. I’ve been eating it as a health food along with kale, for years and years – way before it became fashionable. I happen to love health food. But I am not cool and I am not a foodie. I’m just imperfect me.

How about you?

Still on the subject of food – as you read my blog on Simple Living, you’ll see food and recipe posts. That’s because I love healthy  – but simple food. I promise never to share a post that requires you to become a black belt chef unless you want to. There’s a big difference.

But I also know that there are some honest-to-goodness, serious foodies in the world, and people who have an innate knack for making food sing. My hat goes off to them. I’m lucky to know a few really well. For them, spending hours in the kitchen is sublime. I’m talking about the rest of us who do not have that innate sense and who feel stressed out trying produce foodie food.

For us non foodie people, let’s simply enjoy our imperfect kitchens, our imperfect cooking abilities, and let’s enjoy those wonderful, relaxing neighborhood restaurants that serve regular, good food and have a comfy atmosphere. The non-trendy places. Let’s just relax around food, shall we?

Don’t you want to exhale at the thought of this? I do.

Loving what you have is a beautiful concept

Here’s another piece of reading material that inspired me to write this post. It’s a book by Melissa Michaels titled, Love the Home you Have.

What a beautiful concept: loving whatever you have, even if it’s not perfect. Letting go of the incessant need to be perfect, have a perfect home, be a perfect cook, be a perfect foodie, have a perfect body, always look 25 even if you’re 85.

What if you loved your imperfect home, your imperfect body, your imperfect cooking skills, your imperfect kitchen and your imperfect life? Don’t you feel lighter just imagining?

This is not at all to say that we shouldn’t care about certain things. I’m definitely not suggesting that you should ignore your health and body, for example, or that you ought to give up and let your home become a cluttered mess. Nor am I suggesting that you ignore the culture we live in and not care about how you look or what you wear. Afterall, given our culture, we are judged by how we look. That’s OK. Do what you can to look good, but give up the need for perfection. If you’re unhappy with your job or relationship – do what you can to improve them or leave. But give up the idea of finding perfection. Be happy with “good enough,” because “good enough” is attainable – but perfection is not.

“Good enough” doesn’t mean giving up – it’s just the opposite – it’s liberating. It means knowing full well that you will never, ever be perfect because human beings are simply not perfect. Think about this – if you’re always striving for perfection, you can never be happy because nobody can ever attain perfection. But if you can relax into “good enough,” you can be happy.

Remember too, that as soon as you feel perfect about something, it will change. This is Buddhism 101 – true liberation is recognizing that life is imperfect and also that life keeps changing whether you want it to or not. You buy a shiny new car and someone runs into it in the grocery store parking lot. You’re in a great mood today but tomorrow you wake up feeling anxious. You work out at the gym and love how strong your body looks and feels, and then something happens and you stop going to the gym and your body changes again. You’re super happy because you have the new relationship you always wanted and then you find out that your partner isn’t perfect.

To keep striving for perfection means constant, underlying stress. But to accept imperfection and “good enough” is hugely liberating.

You get to be you and you get to relate to others as just you – allowing everyone around you to relax.

Imperfection – and the huge exhale that goes with it  –  is the new good life..

5 comments

  1. Insightful post. Concepts of ‘cooking as competitive sport’ and trying too hard in the kitchen rang true. Can think of many times I’ve been worn out from cooking by time guests arrive for supper. Lots of ups and downs in this life without imposing even more pressure on ourselves.

  2. Janet were you stalking me last night? Ha ha, kidding! Can we be besties? I’m laughing at my perfectionist inside of me that sat down this morning with a resolve for quiet time, journal time and prayer. I was resolved to get rid of the torment I felt last night going to bed with the looming Monday on the heels of a nice long weekend that didn’t reach perfection. In my “new house purchase” season here I’m scanning Pinterest for color choices, not being good at this I needed to find pictures to help me visualize what colors to pick and paint our home with. In the midst of that came these lies of perfect bedrooms in the pictures and then my frustration of this achievement I perhaps won’t ever reach. Why should I want that when I just want the simple life?..Exasperated I vented to my husband last night. I said “I don’t want the madness and chaos, I just want to slow down and live different”.. I knew you were out there somewhere, I have a couple of friends that I believe are pursuing the imperfect, simple life as well. Thank you for this post, it is confirmation that it’s okay to accept what I have and where I am as good enough. Thank you so much for blessing my life today!

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