Zoom in on Perfection – It’s an Illusion

I’ve been reading home renovation blogs for years.*

*To clarify, this is one of those interests that remains strictly in the “aspirational” category. I once tackled a painting project my brother-in-law promised would take an hour – or less – to complete. It took me 6 hours and two trips to the hardware store. I ruined one of my favourite shirts – despite wearing a cover-up. I was sore for a week, got a sunburn and the end result suggested a kindergartener had been wielding the paintbrush (a kindergartener that hadn’t yet fully mastered the art of staying inside the lines).

Back to those DIY blogs. One of my favourite design duos got their start years ago with a very basic internet presence: simple website, simple projects, simple house. Over the last decade, I’ve followed along as they’ve morphed into an empire of sorts. There are furniture lines, partnerships with major brands, sponsored content, full-time staff, and even a clothing line. Despite $2,000 mirrors and a 5,000-square foot house making their lifestyle and renovation budgets a bit less…relatable…I’ve remained a loyal reader, mostly because of the pictures.

They provide spectacular eye candy: gorgeous wallpaper, custom closets with colour-coded clothing, modern-rustic exposed beams. For good measure they might throw in a steaming latte sitting next to a flickering candle on a spotless countertop. With nary a coffee table book, Persian rug or chambray throw pillow out of place – their home (and thus their life?) looks practically perfect. Some days it’s inspirational to view this content and, other days, when my floors are littered with discarded socks and cookie crumbs and when dated light fixtures reveal a sink full of dirty dishes, my life all feels too imperfect.

Last week I happened to zoom in on one of those perfectly staged photos. The lighting was stunning, the distribution of objects within the field of view provided maximum impact. But viewed at 150%, I could see that within this aesthetically “perfect” stairway vignette there was actually cracked caulking at the bottom of each step. And scuffed treads. Another day, new photo. Dream kitchen. Zoom. Dirt and dings on the cabinets, crumbs all over the floor.

From houses to food to bodies to children (and everything in between), we’re inundated with images that suggest perfection. It all seems so…attainable. If we only could find a way to dress our family in coordinating outfits and make it to Machu Picchu for the golden-hour sunset shot – then we’d reach perfection.

But perfection is an illusion. When we’re struggling with our own basket of anxieties, foibles, and griefs, it’s so easy to look at something or someone else and see perfection. Perfection could be: a number on the scale, a figure in the bank, a street address or a particular type of car in the driveway. If only we could get that, life would be perfect.

I have scuffs on my stairs and crumbs on my floor (counter and table, too). And I often wish them – will them – away. But those crumbs don’t make me a failure, don’t reduce my value, don’t make my life less beautiful. They just make me a person with scuffs on her stairs and crumbs on her floor (proverbially and literally). Nothing more or less.

Some days I rail at the kids to eat over their plates and take off their shoes, but on the good days, I zoom out: I ignore the crumbs (or take the time to sweep them up without complaint) and say: Today isn’t perfect. But today is good.

2 thoughts on “Zoom in on Perfection – It’s an Illusion”

  1. I’ve been enjoying home renovation programs for years and the end result is always ‘perfect’ but if a person looks closely there are imperfections. Perfection is an illusion but we log online and see ‘perfect’ pictures of other people (from celebrities to people we know) living their best life and we forget behind the scenes is not the same as what we are presented with. It is such an important topic and one we tend to forget when going through a busy or stressful time.

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