Chasing Perceptions

While I was visiting Northern California last week I met a friend whom I have known online but never in person. Not long into our conversation she mentioned how disorienting she found my appearance. “You look like an ex-jock who went to Yale and then had every advantage in life. You look like you could be Mitt Romney’s son.” For the record, I am an ex-jock, or an ex-athlete as I like to think of it. The rest of it, however, not true. But the perception is understandable. I am one of the most traditional looking men you will ever meet. If I had continued to pursue acting I would have been cast as a faithfully married doctor on a soap opera. I am even a Taurus, whose primary trait is dependability. How dull, how workmanlike, how traditional.

In high school, I had to keep reminding my teachers I wanted to be a writer. When they looked at me they saw a television news anchor or a politician. This worried me a little. Was this shell of mine a truly accurate reflection of what lay within it? In many ways, it was. At that time I had secretly harbored the belief that one was either perfect or broken, with nothing in between. Given these choices, I would do all I could to be perfect. Why, there were days I felt like I could almost pull this off – but oh, the days when I absolutely couldn’t.

It is a hard way to live, and an equally hard way to write. One of the gifts this column has given me is the understanding that perfection is impossible and unnecessary. Because I had to write one every day, I made the decision to abandon perfection within the essays. Freed from this burden, I wrote as well as I have ever written.

Perfection had always been elusive, after all. It was like a shadow of a unicorn I was chasing through the forest. It’s hard to describe it honestly in words if you never really see it. But if all I had to do was the best I could do that day – this I understood. This was right before me. I could stop chasing and look around me. To my surprise, I quite liked what I saw. This would do. This looked like me.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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