In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell writes, “…The only way you can describe a human is by describing his imperfections.” This quote resonated with me in many ways. How could an author describe someone who is perfect? They could just say s/he is a perfect human being and leave it at that, but everyone’s idea of perfection differs, and while I may think that someone is perfect, someone else may think they’re a flaming hot mess.
When you’re describing imperfections, however, you can go into endless, Dickensian levels of details and in those details you can describe someone exactly—those imperfections are often what you fall in love with. I have thought about this a great deal here at Blind Brook; last year, a normal conversation took a disturbing turn.
My friends and I were talking about grades and I posed the question, “What’s the worst that could happen if we don’t get a good grade?” A friend quietly goes, “We won’t get into college and get a job and have a good life.” At first I thought she was kidding, acting out an ironic bit, but when she looked confused after everyone began laughing, I realized she was being serious.
I have found that this attitude is really common here at Blind Brook. People think that their life has to be perfect and follow the path that is laid out from second grade; that the only way to success is through good grades and a perfectly well rounded profile and that college dictates the rest of your life. This is a view I do not share, especially because if that’s the reason they’re working hard, and not because they’re inspired and interested, then it’s not genuine.
If this is the case, you’re not learning, you’re checking off items on a list you were introduced to way too young, and you don’t realize that you can throw away the list and find your bliss, not the one that you think is expected of you. Truthfully, that is really hard for people when you have everyone in your life telling you what to do and how you should do it.
Moreover, with everyone trying to be so perfect all the time, and the idea of perfect being the same, you end up with a group of people that are extremely similar. So how do you fall in love–and I don’t even mean romantically–with someone who hides his or her imperfections to look like everyone else? You don’t. I’ve lived in many different places around the world, and here is where I find that people have the most superficial relationships.
Their “perfect” lives have to be reflected in their “perfect” relationships, but there is no depth to perfection, so there is no depth to the relationships. And any sort of conflict is avoided because conflict is not perfect. Conflict is ugly and chaotic, so it is easier to avoid conflict and avoid the trouble of having to confront imperfection. Imperfection, however, brings people together.
You can’t solve a puzzle whose pieces are all the same: squared and smooth.