THE QUEST FOR PERFECTION
“Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
Humans are hardwired to seek perfection. Many have taken up the quest. Consider Leonardo da Vinci and his obsession with perfecting the human form. Or Einstein and his relentless quest for a unified theory, combining gravity and electromagnetism. Others have sought physical perfection by pushing iron or submitting to scalpel and syringe ; Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elle McPherson from my generation and now the Kardashians.
In fact, the pursuit of physical perfection, whatever its’ definition, has become an all consuming pastime hallmarked by the Selfie. And for a while, I played that game too. As a forty something fitness model, something that was unheard of at the time, I submitted to the requirements of bodybuilding - egg whites, lifting, chicken breasts, ProTan and more lifting. Get up the next day and repeat.
I knew the goal was to build the Wild Physique, as coined by Vince Gironda. In the eyes of the bodybuilding federations, that physique began, much like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, with broad shoulders, straight clavicles, well developed lats slipping into a narrow waist, followed by fulsome glutes, sweeping quads and diamond shaped calves.
Those ideals were my roadmap to creating the best physique I could. In my heart, I knew I did not have a “perfect” physique but that didn’t stop me from trying to build one. And while I did that, though I was focussing on my outer aesthetic, another transformation was occurring, something I almost missed.
I had turned to bodybuilding as a way of rebuilding myself after leaving my first husband. Overweight and depressed, I had no purpose but the gym gave that to me. Pitting myself against iron and machines, the mitochondria and trillions of cells in my body were changing radically. I developed willpower, something that can, like a muscle cell, be trained and fortified. I discovered how to commit to something. I learned how to take pain, linger in it a little in order to gain strength and still come out feeling grand. I learned that I could change the chemistry in my body and mostly my head, from feeling depressed to feeling positive and energized. The world went from dull and bleak, to full of possibilities. I felt good again and I was nowhere near perfect. I was good enough for me.
Ultimately I did not care about perfection. I was far more interested in the journey and what I could learn about myself.
Focusing on the end goal of fitting into someone else’s ideal of what is without flaw, misses the point of the journey and the journey itself is the true work. You will be amazed at what you are capable of if you try. You will surprise and delight if you are willing to do the work. Let your journey to wellness guide you but accept that it is a journey. There will be bumps and breakdowns but you are on this wonderful ride and your body is supremely forgiving if you will just forget about perfection.
What perfection have you been seeking? And what are you willing to release to simply enjoy the ride? I’d love to hear about your journey.
With love and blessings and many imperfections,