Monday, September 28, 2009

Pondering "Perfection"

Is there a work of art that is perfect? The Taj Mahal? The Parthenon? Is perfection a singular, quantifiable, 100% test grade? Where do we ever come across, in real life, situations where perfection is an objective, determinate, finite reality? Do we strive for perfection to be closer to God or man? Is one of Monet's haystacks more perfect than another?

My cousin, Albie, left his surfboard behind the garage at my parent's house. Albie is older than I am by seven or eight years, and when I was a kid I pretty much worshipped him, this awesome surfing cousin. When I turned sixteen and got my driver's license, I measured that eight-foot longboard and measured my mom's Volvo stationwagon. With the back seat down and the front passenger seat reclined, I could fit the surfboard inside.

I took that surfboard out from behind the garage and washed off caked dirt. The whole board was covered with some other nasty, irregular gunk. For two days, I scraped and rubbed until all that other junk was removed. Finally, I got out my mom's Pledge and sprayed and polished until that entire board gleamed with perfection. The inlaid wooden highlights sparkled. We were ready, me and that surfboard, and I was going to teach myself how to surf.

Going down to the beach with that surfboard, I could not have been more happy or more proud. I got it out from the back of the Volvo in the parking lot with great care, stood it up, and admired it. The board was heavy under my arm, but I kept cool and didn't show how hard it was to lug that huge board across the sand. I could not wait to get it into the water!

Once it was in the water, the board looked beautiful, but I could not even hold onto it, much less get on it and paddle out into the waves. My sad conclusion, after two hours of struggling to even lie down on the board and failing at that, was that surfing is really REALLY HARD! It took me a lot more years to learn about waxing surfboards and to realize that "perfection" is incredibly slippery.

No comments: