The Problem with Perfect

In 1972 I was nine years old and a chess fanatic. Bobby Fischer was playing Boris Spassky for the world chess championship. Every kid my age (probably only the nerds) watched every move Mr. Fischer made on his way to being the first ever U.S. world chess champion and the only one since.

I would stay up late reading the commentary from the newspaper about the genius behind every decision Mr. Fischer made. “Bobby Fischer then moved his king’s pawn to E5 initiating the classic Max Lange attack after beginning with the Italian opening. It was the “perfect” move!” Of all the commentary I remember reading, I loved the use of the word perfect. “Bobby played a perfect game; Spassky missed the perfect life-saving move on his 43rd turn up to bat”. There were things in this life that were perfect. If you followed the rules, studied the board, paid attention to your opponent, you could make the “perfect move”. However, one misstep, one miscalculation and 40 perfect moves could be eliminated by one mistake. I loved chess – I love chess now. I love looking for the perfect move that 1400 years of Grand Masters say exists on every turn. I believe life is a lot like chess. Time, space, force, structure and development – all the main principles of chess turn out to be the main principles in life. For example, every game of chess will eventually end with a winner, no winners (tie), or simply run out of time. If you fail to develop your body, mind and soul not only will you never be a winner, eventually you’ll just run out of time. If you don’t develop a force within yourself or understand the forces you’re up against you’ll be dust in the wind. If you live a life without options/choices you will be judged not to have lived. Chess is a lot like life but with one exception; if you go through life looking for the “perfect” move you’ll be doomed.

I sincerely believe that the only place to find perfection in life is in imperfection. Nothing is perfect. Not diamonds, not people, not jobs or lovers or friends or family members or your pet dog Scruffy. The sooner you start to realize that perfect only exists in games like chess the sooner you’ll be truly happy.

I meet so many people who go through their life questioning every action they have taken. What if I had finished college; what if I had stayed married; what if I had taken that job? Let it go! Even in my wonderful world of diamonds the word “perfect” was outlawed by the Federal Trade Commission as misleading. The FTC said “perfect” was a matter of perception not fact. It’s true. We might have days that to anyone else would seem less than perfect but are perfect to us. Why? I don’t know; I guess because we just made it so, decided it was so. The problem with perfect is it leaves very little room for maneuvering. We don’t have the perfect bodies but we try to make them so. We try to live the perfect life yet I’ve never met one person that succeeded.

After Bobby Fischer played the most perfect chess of his life he went into hiding. He didn’t want to play anymore. Why would he? How could he ever top perfect?

I said before that the only place to find perfect was in imperfect. What I meant was since every person, place or thing is imperfect then it must mean imperfection is part of the design. If you believe in God or a higher force (a latest NBC study says 92% of us do) you probably see this God, higher force as perfect. If this God that made us is perfect and he made us with imperfections isn’t it possible that what makes anything in this world perfect is the imperfections that come with the package?

One of the reasons I love my wife isn’t because she thinks I’m wonderful but because she can live with the things I don’t think are so wonderful about me. Instead of living a life searching for perfect, try dialing it down a notch and look for something with a few flaws. It or they will probably add a lot more joy to your life.

by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®