I know better. I mean, don’t most of us? Perfection is unattainable in this world. But I am a hardhead that needs reminding time and again that my striving for perfection is futile. Sometimes it takes a hole in the wall to do just that.
We are in the process of doing some home renovations that include painting…as in many rooms…eventually. It’s been a while since I’ve tackled this responsibility, and I had to relearn the lesson that the prep work takes time—more than I want it to. But good, solid prep typically yields good, solid results, so…we do it with dedication. Spackle, sand, tape, trim, edging—such fun! Not.
When it finally comes time to paint the walls, though, and I can begin to see what the end result will look like…I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Of course, once the walls are done, there’s the post work that needs doing, too, though it’s not nearly as tedious as the prep work. The near “doneness” is palpable. Soon I will be able to put hands on hips, survey the work, and let the feeling of satisfaction wash over me.
Unless two holes in the wall appear.
In my beautiful, perfect wall.
That I just painted.
The perfection was only an illusion, as the two screws that we left in the wall to rehang our mirror were unknowingly too weak to continue to do the job. The sizeable anchors used left sizable holes.
After kicking myself umpteen times for not better checking the screws so that I would learn they needed to be redone before painting, I just stared at them. And they stared back at me. It was like my wall had these two wideset beady eyes glaring back at me, and they were going to win the staring contest…because I blinked.
You see, while I’ve done a lot of patching of holes before painting, I had never had the experience of fixing a hole so that it blended back into the wall imperceptibly.
Like, was that even possible?
Even YouTube had little help to offer since most people are not morons who leave two large screws in a wall that is going to be painted. Thankfully, I found one site that gave me the piece of information I was looking for: when it comes time to repaint, I should use a small art brush for the task. Brilliant. Now I had a plan.
I spackled the holes a few times until I was convinced that they were filled and strong. After some final delicate sanding, I got my little brush out and covered the blaring white with the soft, warm brown of the rest of the wall.
And I waited.
Have you ever heard the cliché “it’s about as exciting as watching paint dry”? Well, this time it actually was exciting because 1. I didn’t actually stand there and watch it dry (duh), and 2. when it did dry…it looked damn good.
I know where those holes lurk because I went on a mission with them, but to other eyes it will be unnoticeable.
So…this is the part where I tie life into this little fiasco…
My hole-in-the-wall journey reminded me of one thing and taught me another.
Of course, the reminder is that striving for perfection is useless. It’s a waste of time and a guaranteed letdown because disappointment is right around the corner. It puts unnecessary pressure on me that I certainly don’t need. Goalsetting should always fall into the “attainable” category, and…perfection is not attainable. So lighten up, lunkhead. (That’s me I’m referring to—I would never call you lunkhead.)
Admitting that perfection is impossible doesn’t mean not doing your best, though. No, striving for excellence is an attainable goal. Trying to excel and trying to perfect are very different ambitions. One will get you someplace; the other will leave you stranded.
So that was the reminder…now what did I learn?
The process of fixing those holes was a lot like dealing with life’s “holes”—the inevitable wounds and struggles that come with this world. Knowing how to handle life’s injuries, heal, and begin again are crucial to living a healthy life.
I realized that those holes in the wall were actually a good thing because I learned how to handle the problem. The next time something similar comes my way, I will have the confidence that I can manage it. The experience means that I am better equipped to handle the next hole in the wall—though I am absolutely not hoping for more!
But if one does come along…as it inevitably will someday…I’ll be ready.