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The Quest for Perfection

I grew up obsessed with perfection. Even during the times I rejected Catholicism, I understood what it meant to be awed by Truth, Goodness and Beauty. I knew the addictiveness of being awed by something, of being struck by an ideal such that I end up in a daze.

People considered me weird, but I ignored them. I remember a story one of my professors shared with us once. He was walking along a busy street when he was suddenly struck by the beauty of a tree, so he spent a few minutes staring at it. Apparently, an acquaintance had noticed him and thought he needed assistance regarding something. My professor told us, “How can I explain what I had experienced? If I told this person what I had felt, he will think I had lost my mind.”

Well now, isn’t this what ‘normal’ people will think?

Why do some people understand perfection and feel awed by it while some do not? Is it only a matter of temperament or education?

I recalled a conversation I had with someone I would describe as a very practical person. At that time, I had left a dead-end career to try to become a writer. He said to me, “Why did you leave your job?” I replied, “Because it had become repetitive, and I no longer felt challenged.”

He said, “But isn’t life repetitive?”

I suppose I could have started a serious discussion about that, but it would not have made any difference. This is a person who believes life is only something to be survived. I do not mean he thinks life is all about struggle such that there is no time for enjoyment. By ‘survive’ I mean ‘get through.’ This person believes you are born, you go through what you need to go through, and you die. Why do you need to be challenged? All you need is a decent salary, a loving family and a choice of leisure activities.

I don’t want that. I want perfection. Even before I understood what my life is for, I loved watching videos about ballet students striving to achieve perfection, and military recruits trying to be part of an elite group. It’s not about the ability to brag about your achievements afterwards, though that can be a source of motivation. I think people who seek achievement only to be able to brag have a limit to what they desire. They will achieve only what most people will admire. Trying to achieve more than that is a waste of time.

I think people who are in love with perfection are motivated by the intense feelings they experience after achieving perfection: the perfect performance, finally being labeled as elite.

In this life, what I want is to achieve perfection in my chosen art, but also to achieve perfection in my life.

Before I rediscovered Catholicism, I knew I would only be happy if I am able to leave a legacy, i.e. if the generations after my death will remember me as someone who contributed something significant to human culture.

During those times, my desire was based on pride. I simply wanted to brag that I am talented and I am supposed to be admired.

Now it’s completely different. I still want to leave a legacy, but I want it to be this: through my work, I want people to desire perfection too. I want them to seek a life that is beyond survival. I want them to understand that there is something greater than this life, something more awesome than anything they can possibly experience in this universe.

Perhaps the reason some people do not seek perfection is because they are not aware it exists. Humanity needed Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Newton, Einstein, Hawking and many other great minds to unlock the great truths of this reality. We also need great teachers to spread these truths in a way that will not be misunderstood.

I think my life’s purpose is to share what I know in a way that can be understood and accepted. The ballerina seeks perfection to express beauty. The elite soldier seeks perfection to save the weak and oppressed. Meanwhile, I seek perfection so I can share this understanding and desire for perfection.

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