There’s a hilarious Father Ted episode where he tries to undo a small dent in a borrowed car, and ends up completely hammering it beyond all recognition. Tap tap tap, just a wee bit more here, a wee bit more there, and it turns into a write-off. I think I found it funny because I saw my own perfectionist nature in it – always pushing things beyond the perfect and into the realms of the ruined. Which is possibly why my husband seems so tense when I help him cut his hair.
It’s ridiculous when it concerns objects, but can wreck experiences too. Even in the middle of a lovely day, I succumb to moments of distanced negativity – ‘oh, I’m going to be so tired after this’, ‘it would have been even better if…’ or – most irritating of all- ‘I can’t believe it’s nearly over.’
Tap tap tap. It’s just as well the photos can’t record those gloomy clouds.
There’s worse though. Things and experiences are bad enough, but more tragic than that are the harmful attempts to perfect people and relationships. Surely that’s what nagging often is – trying to control and shape another person’s character and actions so that they look better in your eyes. But how bad do you become in the process.
I’m learning my lessons in this field very slowly. Beautifully, it’s my children who are my greatest teachers. When Samuel painted a picture, I used to always shape one of the objects so it looked more like what he claimed it to be. Now, I stand back from the page he holds so proudly, and love it because it’s all him, and nothing else. When Ciara helps me unpack the groceries, it makes me smile when I open the fridge and see tins of beans in it, because that’s my little girl.
On my best days, that is. There I go again – tap tap tap.