Practically Perfect

The Winter Olympics are a good reminder of how hard it is to accept defeat.

In my life, things aren’t measured as much as wins and losses as good days and bad days. Bad days are when I fail to achieve perfection. 

Guess what? Yes, there are few good days as perfection is practically impossible. In music, I hate to miss notes, or miss an entry. My next performance is with Orchestra Iowa, performing Gustav Mahler’s 2nd symphony. It’s a massive, very difficult work; a musical equivalent to a marathon. I was moved up to first stand for this concert which is a big responsibility. I am a leader, and if I mess up, others might behind me.

This is a hard chair for a perfectionist to sit in. If I didn’t strive for perfection, however, I might stop caring.Image

In Mary Poppins the Musical there is a song called “Practically Perfect.” Anyone who has seen the Disney movie knows that Mary Poppins has attitude. She thinks she is the best and only possible nanny.Image

I was not born with that attitude. I’ve had to cultivate it. To me, people who are cocky or too sure of themselves are repulsive. Where is the middle ground? I always try not to compare myself with others.

Yet I race. I compete for jobs with others in music. It’s impossible to not do so. 

Perhaps the difference is being humble when you fail. We all do, you know. It’s picking yourself up, brushing yourself off and setting new goals. Today I finally took a peek at last week’s triathlon results. I was afraid of being last in my age category. Guess what? I was last. But there were only four of us, and the other women were super-fast.  First place female in my age group biked at 26 mph for 10 mins. I was shocked to see that I actually came in second on the swim leg! This was after only doing a little over 19 laps in 10 mins and feeling like I was clinging to the side of the pool a few times to get a deep breath. I might of been third, but the woman I beat on the swim/bike ran at 10 mph…that’s under 6 min/mile pace!

Looking at the results I let my anxiety and perfectionism go. I know I may NEVER run 10 mph for 10 minutes with my bum ankle. I may be able to catch up with the others on the bike leg, however, if I keep pushing. I definitely can swim faster if I actually train and don’t have a virus. Looking at how fast the others were in the 40-49 women category, I decided that I just want to strive to be like them. I feel like less of a failure than I did mentally last week after the race when my knee was hurting and I just couldn’t push through to run faster.

The Brewmaster has shown that he loves every bit of me, even the parts I have trouble accepting. This is the first time in years that I feel like someone else takes me for all I am. It makes it easier to embrace my faults and weaknesses, even though I realize that needs to come from me, not him.

But I  also have strengths. I can dig into those, cultivate them, and give life my best effort. In music, and Mahler, I can also just practice like crazy where my weaknesses are, enjoy having a big sound and very musical phrases, and let a few missed notes fly by. They will happen since I am not Robocellist. 

I am practically perfect. And I like myself that way.Image


One Reply to “Practically Perfect”

  1. Tri-ing for perfection … whether in Tri’s … or your life’s work (the cello) … is a goal … but just that … a goal. You did AWESOME at the Tri … be proud … I bet your other half is 🙂

    As for the music … that you can do this … that in itself, even with a note missed once in a while (which most people would not even notice), that is a thing of beauty.

    And … congratulations on getting to first stand … and…. make sure the others bow the same 🙂

    (Did I mention my wife plays cello? Not professionally … she has taught herself how to play! And … I do believe the cello is one of my most favorite of instruments.)

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