The Son of an Imperfectionist


My dad was not a perfectionist and neither am I. I was reminded of this truth the other day when the lawnmower refused to work. In a desperate effort to keep it going, and to my wife’s amusement, I noticed that it would continue to splutter on for a while when I bounced it about. Then, even that technique failed. There isn’t a mechanical bone in my body and I have vowed not to spend any more money on this recalcitrant mower. In desperation I knelt down next to it and noticed that when I manually moved the carburetor (it is surprising I know what a carburetor is!) up  the engine purred freely but if I let go it would splutter and fail. “Ah” I thought, “if I can jam a piece of wood under the carby I might get it to work.”  I couldn’t find the right piece of wood. Then I spied an old scrubbing brush. I pushed this underneath with the old bristles adding a little tension and the mower worked beautifully. Problem solved!

But it made me think of my dad. It was his sort of solution. My wife has banned me from electrical wires ever since I burned out the wiring in the car but it was an area that my dad had a blind fearlessness about. It has always been a surprise to me that it wasn’t electricity that killed him. There must have been an ‘arc’ angel looking after him. He would find any solution at hand. I remember one of my wooden toys holding up a broken foot on the piano, for years.

But in my family the curse of imperfection has been replaced with the greater curse of perfectionism. There is an exactness in my wife and daughters that I admire and wonder at. To be honest, it is beyond my comprehension. Precision, exactness, completion, harmony and the like, are words not often found in my vocabulary, but they are multiplied in the rest of my family.  Precise chemistry and engineering, exact drawing and meticulous artwork are all a natural part of their striving, but well beyond my ken.

I don’t understand this but then, I would rather have my car fixed or the plane I am flying on, built, by someone with this attitude than by me or dad.

Categories: Family, Reflections | Tags: , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “The Son of an Imperfectionist

  1. Hetty

    A few grammar mistakes in this blog.

  2. Your dad may not have been a perfectionist but pity help you if you missed a spot when washing his car. He’d let you know you missed some and then watch as you carefully and in vain examined the thing looking for the dirty spot.
    BTW it was the bit under the rear bumper.

  3. Relating to this!

  4. My grandfather could make or build anything. He was the original MacGyver and could build a sailing ship with a rubber hose, a piece of dental floss, and a spoon. As a house-builder, he’d say, “It doesn’t have to be square, it just needs to look square.” That’s a great maxim – until you have to go back to repair one of his looks-square-but-isn’t projects.

    As a former perfectionist, I’m thankful that God set me free from my self-induced bondage. I was never good enough to meet my own standard, never did enough to be able to rest, and never completed anything satisfactorily to enjoy it.

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