Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Perfectly imperfect

Posted on January 19, 2008 by jimparedes



It’s election season in America and we’ve seen the candidates go out of their way to put their best foot forward. Watching them, it makes me wonder what the other foot is like.

Everyone wants to be projected as the perfect leader, husband or wife, parent, citizen, etc., and if they can’t play the hero, they play it down or deny any accusations that may sully their projected ideal images. This holds true for every person in the public eye. Everyone wants to look perfect and ideal.

The curious thing is that even if almost everyone knows, at least in theory, that there is no such thing as a perfect person, there is still great disappointment, outrage even, when a perceived “hero” displays attitudes, opinions or actions that make him or her appear less than perfect. There is a feeling of betrayal among his or her admirers.

I often wonder why we humans have this burning demand and desire for perfection. We really want to have something or someone perfect to admire and emulate, despite what experience tells us — that there is no such animal. Is it because, deep down, the quest for perfection is all about the desire to experience God in our lives? Is that why anyone who tries to shine above the rest but ultimately fails the perfection test must be crucified in the end?

The two-timing lover, the priest whose carnal sins are exposed, the public official who is caught stealing, the “honorable” person who is exposed as a phony — they are all condemned by the public for failing to uphold their perfect images. Crudely but truthfully put, they are thrashed because they have unwittingly claimed to be God by rising above the rest only to be exposed as having feet of clay, just like the rest of us.

Apart from disappointment, there are people who get satisfaction in seeing someone great humbled, or cut down to size. It’s been the same story since the beginning of time. And so the world becomes bitter and cynical seeing so many of its leaders fall by the wayside, and looks for perfection elsewhere.

In his writings, Carl Jung debunked the idea of purity when he posited that there is nothing that comes from a pure source. He points to the history of the Catholic Church, which every moral guardian should study. Church history is replete with interesting but morally bankrupt characters — priests and popes with children and mistresses, “holy men” who allied themselves with the wealthy and powerful and looked the other way, or even sanctioned the ruling classes’ outrageous behavior.

They did this, for sure, for personal gain but cloaked it in the noble aim of service to the divine by enhancing the power of the Church over the lives of everyone. But still, despite its checkered past, it cannot be denied that there were many who remained true to the service of this imperfect institution. My late father, a true son of the Church, in defending the institution, used to say that the fact that the Church has survived through the centuries in spite of the many flaws and weaknesses of its leaders, proves that it is God’s project.

Every so often, we see high-profile people candidly admit to indiscretions or shortcomings. What surprises me (delights me, actually) more than their confessions is that the public not only forgives them but admires them for their candor. A few examples are Bill Clinton’s admitting to having had an affair and Erap presenting himself candidly to voters as a womanizer. Here in Australia, during the last election campaign, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd admitted that he was thrown out of a strip joint in New York years ago for unruly drunken behavior. Remarkably, that admission may have helped propel his ratings. And more recently, much has been said about Hillary Clinton’s teary reaction when she lost the Iowa caucus. It showed a side of her that was “weak” and “human” — and it may have helped her win the New Hampshire primary the following week.

Perhaps we should learn how to look at ourselves in a kinder, more realistic light. While we cheer our heroes, let us not be tempted to elevate them to God status. Leaders are like everyone else — ordinary people!

What makes them different is they strive to rise above the rest of us and do extraordinary things despite their imperfections.

I am a big fan of recovery stories, and I admire the brilliance of the “12 Steps” program, the radically beautiful and life-changing prescription of Alcoholics Anonymous. The very first step a recovering alcoholic must make is to admit that he is powerless over his addiction and that his life has become unmanageable because of it. Meetings in AA begin with introductions that go, “Hi, I’m Jim and I’m an alcoholic.” Put in another way, the first step is to admit imperfection. The embraced weakness itself becomes the key to recovering great strength.

I remember watching an athlete on TV who had only one arm. He said something interesting. He said, “The only difference between you and me is that you see my imperfection. Yours is still hidden.”

The following is a story of unknown origin that celebrates what I am talking about. It’s a good way to end this essay.

“A water-bearer in China had two large pots, each hanging on the end of a pole which he carried across his shoulders.

“One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. Daily, for a full two years, this went on, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house.

“Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishment, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection. It was miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it was made to do.

“One day, after two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water-bearer. ‘I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes my water to leak out all the way back to your house.’

“The water-bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, we would not have such beauty.’”

* * *

Here are a few questions we should all ask ourselves at this time in our lives: Do you want a new experience in 2008 or would you like it to be just like the past years you’ve been living? Do you want to (finally) get over past experiences, attitudes and beliefs that have bogged you down in the past and start living with joy and power? Would you like to learn and acquire life-long tools that will help you unblock your creativity, and keep you unblocked for life? Do you want to totally amaze yourself in a great, positive, fantastic way in 2008?

That would be nice, wouldn’t it? In fact, it would be more than nice, it would be great! If you answered yes to all or any of these questions, it’s time to invest in yourself and experience the best of who you can be.

“Tapping the Creative Universe,” the life-changing creativity workshop, is on another run in Manila. Sessions will be held March 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. The total cost of the sessions is P5,000.

For inquiries, call 0916-8554303, or contact emailjimp@gmail.com for a syllabus.

This is a workshop that aims to free your awesome creativity, which may have remained dormant these past years, and give you an experience of unlimited joy, power and achievement. If you are in between dreams, relationships, careers, lives or feel that parts of you are stuck, this is the workshop for you.

3 to “Perfectly imperfect”

  1. Bon says:

    Hi Jim,

    Sorry, this is out of topic, but I thought you might be interested because of your recent encounter with dengue.

    I have been forwarded an email which claims that there is a very simple cure for dengue. Below is a short excerpt – I didn’t want to take up too much space.

    “Speak out: Cure for dengue?
    By Bernardo Rocha Calibo
    Director, National Police Commission 7

    THERE is hope that the dengue scourge will be obliterated.

    I was in a meeting in Manila recently with other Napolcom officials. While waiting for my flight back to Cebu, I happened to talk with friends. The conversation eventually turned to dengue. Some of their statements shocked me. I called up the persons concerned and they confirmed these revelations.

    Computer technician Wenceslao Salesale Jr., 27, was downed by dengue. His platelet count plunged from 180 to 80. He was rushed by ambulance from Novaliches to Manila. Inside the ambulance, a relative, acting upon the advice of a missionary priest, made him drink soup made from camote tops. The following day, his platelet count was normal.

    Dengue attacked the 7-year-old daughter of engineers Mar and Lita Budlongan of Kaloocan City. Her platelet count read 80. The same treatment was used. The following day she was back to normal.

    The 15-year-old daughter of businessman Nepomuceno Salaga of Sampaloc, Manila had a dangerous platelet count of 80 due to dengue. The same treatment was followed. The following day she was back in school.

    (skip)

    Camote tops are boiled in water to extract the juice. The boiling lasts for about five minutes. A little salt is used to give flavor to it. The patient is made to drink slowly and gradually. The body’s immune system is thus revived, making dengue helpless against the body’s natural defenses. Camote enables the body to heal itself.

    (skip)

    (Engr. Lita Budiongan and Mr. Nepomuceno Salaga personally related to me their experiences with their respective daughters. I asked their permission to use their names.)”

  2. Mark Arienda-Jose says:

    To all who’ve been following the election and have not heard of Ron Paul, turn off your television and go to http://www.ronpaul2008.com.

    He’s not perfect, but he’s the only hope for America.

  3. Chai F. says:

    hullo. just popping by.

    re: being human. will veer away from the political scene and would like to share a bit about one of Bjork’s performances. Barbara Streisand could go through a whole concert without sharps or flats which is really amazing, and then i saw Bjork and heard her voice falter; she just banged her chest with her fist a bit and then kept on. My friend and I agreed we liked it because it was so human. 🙂



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