Friday, October 15, 2010

Punctured illusions of grandeur

A fellow blogger found renewed comfort in REAL this week when she discovered the truth about some illusions of grandeur; illusions that she used to measure her own ‘mediocre’ efforts to. The truth set her free (even if it’s progressive).

She loves everything about food; preparation, presentation, hosting dinner parties with friends (or even just family), photographing it, writing about it... And eating it of course (*wink*) She doesn’t think that her photographs of her dishes look quite glamorous enough compared to some that she has seen in magazines/recipe books, etc. Her sense of inferiority was pleasantly warped when she realized some truth about how (so called) perfection is achieved. I’ve tried to select only the ones that provoked a “WHAT THE...?” response, and I quote:
• Motor oil, as a stand-in for unphotogenic syrups.
• Cotton balls, which, when soaked and microwaved,
perform quite nicely in creating the illusion of steaming-hot foods.
• Spray deodorant, which gives grapes that desirable frosty veneer.
• Hairspray, which can give (the appearance of) new life to a drying-out slab of cake.
• Spray fabric protector, to prevent the motor-oil syrup from soaking into the pancake, which has bursting blueberries artfully pinned to it in an aesthetically pleasing, yet random, scattering (still hungry?).
• Brown shoe polish, so raw meat appears to be just-out-of-the-roaster succulent.
• White glue, used instead of milk for cereal photos and for pie repair (that would be the pie actually filled with mashed potatoes, where a serving-sized piece is cut out, with the resulting opening’s edges slathered with lemon custard or rhubarb-strawberry filling).
I don’t think I’ll ever look at photographs of cuisine in quite the same way again, that’s for sure.

I’m sure that we’ve all done our fare share of comparing. We compare our bodies, hair and make-up to the picture perfect (photo shopped / air brushed) beauties in Vogue and Cosmopolitan. We compare our creative abilities to the Van Gogh, the Nigella, the Celine Dion and Versace of our time. We aspire to live in homes like on Top Billing and to wine and dine like Hollywood, and Nelson Mandela has a party with a thousand of his closest friends. Just how close does a thousand people get... Define close? Glitz and glamor makes for warm and fuzzy, but what about real?

What is it that we seek; what do we feel is amiss? We seem to be of the opinion that if we could only attain what we’re striving for we would be satisfied. What if you do get it just to discover that it is nowhere near how you imagined it? You might even feel that you don’t want it anymore. All for nothing! What drives us?
Which leads me to the next question: “At what cost?” What are we prepared to sacrifice in exchange for the illusion of satisfaction or fulfillment that we perceive we’ll feel on the other side? Sometimes the prices that we pay cannot be bought with money and sometimes they can be lost to us forever.

After years of comparing myself to others I’m finally starting to realize that the best yard stick is to be the best that you can be. I believe that excellence is important, and it is attainable. Perfection on the other hand is not. We are sadly mistaken if we compete and compare thinking that it increases our worth or that it will make anyone love us more; that we’ll finally be “good enough”. In fact, it achieves exactly the opposite. It robs us, cripples us and it sucks the life out of us. It takes away the very beauty that you have to offer that is unique to only you while you’re busy trying to equal or top someone else thinking, “If only...”

We need to realize that each one of us is already loved more than we can know or understand by a Heavenly Father who paid a dear price with His only Son to prove it! He loved us first, before we ever achieved anything. Every gift and ability is also from Him and He has given to each one differently. He encourages us to work with what we have and multiply it to its full potential, not the full potential of our next door neighbor; All so that He may be glorified. What a better way to do this than being the best you that you can be!

When you know how much you are loved and accepted in Christ, you can reach for the best in you for the right reasons and you should be able to enjoy it every step of the way!

It reminded me of my music teacher – now a dear friend. While I was studying music I started to realize that my creative ability was very much inhibited by my desire for perfection. It frustrated me. My music teacher often plays in front of audiences and she showed me a few ‘tricks’ of how she sometimes ‘cheat’ on sheet music, e.g. when she played a piece that required for her to turn the page. If she didn’t show me, I would never have known that even those who play so well don’t always play every single note perfectly. Even if they made a mistake, no one else knew, whereas with me it was an open display of disappointment. Instead of just playing along I really pointed out my own flaws. She taught me that it didn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Sometimes we need to remember what it is really all about. We need to learn to recognize true beauty instead of being too busy comparing to false ideas of perfection, all along probably wasting valuable time being miserable, while attempting to impress people who don’t even notice and don’t even care!

Isn't it just awesome every time you realize that what you have to offer is not so bad after all? And even more awesome when you actually start to like it!! You never know what is going on back at the ranch ... Rather spend your time being the best YOU that you can be!!


Cindy said...

Brilliant post Lee :D
much love and respect.

Liane de Witt said...

Your experience gave me an idea. There are so many things that I have NOT done (at all) in my life for comparing it to someone who does it better. I think I've missed out. It was such a refreshing experience to be reminded that often, what we're measuring ourselves to and feeling inferior about, isn't even what it seems; that the real skill is actually faking it so convincingly and not (in this case) the great photography. Like you, I want to have the guts to GO FOR IT! and the more you do what you're going for, the better you're going to get at it anyway, because it is a fact that practice makes perfect :D So keep practicing, girl!! I'm going to do the same ;)

Liane de Witt said...

Cindy, this is just an afterthought. I have received an invitation to the award ceremony for ICSA (the institution through which I study). Only the top 3 positions in the country on any subject is invited to the award ceremony and then you find out on the night - when they call your name - whether it was 1,2 or 3. Not only did I PASS my Taxation, but I was honored to be either one of the first 3 positions in the country for it!! I wanted to just let you know :)

cindy said...

Congrats Lee, that is wonderful :)

Garett said...

Wonderful ... perfection in itself! You have come such a long way and it shows in everything you do. I loved it!

Liane de Witt said...

Thank you, Garett. It's hard to see it when you're in it. Sometimes we need an outsider perspective to remind us. Thank you for sharing your thought :)