The perfect body. The perfect kitchen. The perfect holiday. The perfect car. The perfect life.
Not everyone's bothered by these things, obviously, but at some point, we will probably all fall into the trap of seeking perfection in something or other.
Something we desire will have to be 'perfect' - something that, by dictionary definition, "conforms absolutely to the description of an ideal type", or "having all the required or desirable elements, qualities or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be."
Some of us might have spent the last few weeks fussing about achieving the 'perfect' Christmas - which is clearly a ridiculous and futile aim, unless you happen to be Jamie bloody Oliver or Heston bloomin' Blumenthal and you just happen to be sponsored by a major supermarket chain and just happen to live on the set of a fake snow covered TV advert.
And just for the record, my perfect Christmas pudding doesn't have a pomegranate stuffed in the middle and it's not soaked in triple filtered, organic Tuscan acorn wine either. It's half eaten, wrapped in foil, at the back of the fridge next to half a tub of out of date double cream, waiting to be re-micro waved at 1am after a night down the pub, thank you very much.
Another recent obsession has been giving or receiving the 'perfect' Christmas present - which this year in the absence of an Xbox 360 for my 8 year old son, was a 3 foot-long blue and orange plastic sniper rifle instead. Much cheaper than an Xbox and it's capable of firing soft foam bullets along the length of our landing, into the shower. Perfect.
His Arsenal football kit was nearly perfect, but it didn't have Van Persie and the number 10 printed on the back. But he wasn't that bothered (he's only been an Arsenal fan for a about a week anyway. It was Barcelona before that) and he still happily wore it from Christmas Day to New Year's Day, gradually accumulating festive food and drink stains down the front.
Food stained sportswear might not be everyone's perfect style statement. But what is? Well, for my teenage daughter, it's a pair of Vans (casual canvas shoes that is, not two vehicles for transporting plumbing tools and building materials) and red jeans. But next Christmas it will probably be something else. Hydrogen fuelled booster boots and a pair of holographic, 3D iGoggles maybe? Who knows? But as long as it's the right brand of booster boots - I'm sure they'll be just 'perfect' - until the next thing.
Perfect isn't constant.
For some unfortunate women the desire for 'perfect' breasts has had tragic results. Ruptured French implants, leaking industrial silicone around the body is far from perfect. In response to this alarming news, a radio commentator said we must all stop trying to conform to a false and unrealistic image of bodily perfection - because we can't all be perfect. Of course we can't. I don't mean to sound like Jessie J, but, nobody's perfect. Nothing is perfect. Perfect doesn't exist. Or does it?
According to a quick Google search, a number of things are indeed perfect. One enthusiastic blogger lists them as: tea on a mountain top, a Leatherman Multi-tool, Moleskine notebooks and hot noodle soup. I would say he needs to get out more, but in fact he's one of those outdoor types so actually he's rarely in.
Hot noodle soup? Not so perfect if you're allergic to noodles. Not if your throat swells up and your skin explodes into a geographic itchy red rash every time you so much as look at a noodle.
And what if you just hate soup? Then no soup is perfect is it? Liquidy food might be your idea of culinary hell - even if it is lightly sprinkled with Heston's gas frozen, crumbled, marinated, ostrich feathers - in fact, especially if it is.
Indoor types might be less wholesome. What makes the perfect pizza? Thin crust, stone baked with Parma ham, washed down with a glass of Prosecco? Or deep pan, with chicken tikka, pineapple and a cheese filled crust with a beaker of Fanta Fruit Twist?
Lou Reed's Perfect Day was feeding animals in the zoo and later a movie too and then home - to more struggles with drugs, alcohol and a troubled ego. For someone else (although I can't really imagine who) it might be sitting down to watch a DVD box set of the complete series of The Darling Buds of May. A Perfick Day.
Striving to achieve perfection though, in an imperfect world where nothing is perfect, just seems perfectly mad. Perfect doesn't exist. Well, except that film starring Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta...oh and that storm which engulfs Clooney's fishing boat. Apart from that, perfect doesn't exist. Everything is what it is. Everybody is what they is...or are. No two people are the same. Things that aren't perfect are in fact perfect. That's how it is. That's the way it should be.
We're all wasting our time trying to be or have or do or say something perfect. And we should remember that by not achieving perfect, we're not settling for second best. We're not just putting up with who we are or what we have. Perfect is a non-existent, unobtainable figment of our collective imaginations, fuelled by TV advertising and multi-billion dollar industries. Perfect is a myth. So why don't we all do ourselves a favour, stop tormenting ourselves and just relax?
Imagine a world where none of us felt pressure to conform; to be something or someone we're not. A world where we didn't feel constantly dissatisfied, in our endless search for better or best. That would be perfect...Doh!
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