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.
Remember to catch Bill every Tuesday at 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST on his live Blogtalk Radio program Author2Author!
You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com