Right now, my mom and I work the same job, although never together. As a result, we share some co-workers.
When we're not at work, we're tending our gardens, which include several rather prolific cucumber plants. (The never-ending fridge pickle container in my fridge has not seen an end yet.)
If you grow cucumbers, you know that the vast majority of cucumbers that you pick don't resemble the straight, homogenous cucumbers you buy at the grocery story. Some of the cucumbers look like golf balls, some look like the letter "C", some are real skinny at one end and super fat on the other. They all taste good; they just all have their own individual style.
When I told Mom that I'd brought this co-worker a cucumber, Mom said, "Yeah, I brought her my straightest, plumpiest, most beautiful cucumber yesterday."
Oh, we gardeners are fickle folks.
We all know our cucumbers come in all shapes and sizes, that our tomatoes have blemishes, that slugs and who knows what else love to munch our cabbages and potatoes, that our peppers, cauliflower and broccoli are often much smaller than what we're used to finding in stores. The vegetables may have some faults and imperfections, but that doesn't diminish their value. Unless, it seems, if we're giving away our veggies.
Because when I give away my vegetables, I give away only my most beautiful vegetables. I really want to put my best gardener face forward when I gift my vegetables in a gesture that's part generosity, part survival (OMG - I can't use all of this!) and part vanity (Look at how awesome I am . . . can you believe I grew this?!)
The cucumber story not only explains where my control issues come from (thanks Mom), but also shows the twisted value we all place on perfection . . . or rather, "perceived" perfection.
It's amazing how the myth of perfection permiates our everyday dealings. Even when we all know better, we remain tied to the idea that we must at least give off an impression of being pretty close to perfect.
My co-worker probably wouldn't have been any less grateful and gracious if I'd given her one of the more funky cucumbers. It would have tasted the same. Heck, it might even have sparked some conversation or at the very least, a smile.
So where am I going with this post? I'm tempted to say, and who really wants/needs perfection anyway?! But no matter how much we acknowledge the fact that we'd better off if we could just ditch our unattainable notions of perfection, I have a feeling that none of us will really be truly letting go of the pursuit of perfection (despite our best conscious efforts) any time soon.
They say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. But I have a better idea when it comes to our twisted relationships with perfection: laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and celebrate our vegetables all their shapes and sizes.