I stumbled upon Hugh Prather’s (1970) Notes to Myself while sifting through book shelves at a rummage sale back in the late 90s. Since procuring this text, I make sure to take it with me wherever I travel as it has become a vital part of my personal library. I enjoy (re)reading its ponderings about many of life’s complex issues.
In short, the book presents Prather’s concise thoughts as he contemplates life’s nuances: certain emotions, experiences, and behaviours of self in relation to other. As I’ve been furtively writing over the past few nights, I started to remember a few passages about perfectionism and the writing experience.
I placed these passages in my thesis from 2005 as reminders to let the writing experience dictate itself rather than the need to please others.
- “Perfectionism is slow death. If everything were to turn out just like I would want it to, just like I would plan for it to, then I would never experience anything new; my life would be an endless repetition of stale successes. When I make a mistake, I experience something unexpected” (n.p.).
- “As I write I am in a state of learning, becoming, arriving and not in a state of knowing and having arrived” (n.p).
Their timely re-appearance marks the path I am currently on – writing is never perfect, never finished.
It is fluid and in motion. It is released to others and always has room for improvement.
Will it be well-received? It doesn’t matter.
Will it be timeless? It doesn’t need to be.
To write with the hope of transcending time means to write outside of the now.
It is the same with living. To live for perfection is to live outside of the now.
No one life is perfect. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t need to be.
Life is fluid and in motion and wonderfully imperfect.
Prather, H. (1970). Notes to Myself. Moab, Utah: Real People Press.