Andromeda: “Sneek Peak” and other thoughts on imperfection

That’s what I promised, in print, that attendees at our upcoming May 22 fundraiser would get: a “sneek peak” at Raven Place.

Just a little embarrassing, to misspell two words side-by-side in an announcement about a writing center. I missed it completely. It was my kids, ages 15 and 12, who pointed out the error while tittering at their mother’s poor proofreading.

But there have been other little neuroelectrical shortages this week. Like the receipt I’d thought I’d lost, which was sitting nicely folded in my wallet. Like the piece of paper I meant to bring to a meeting, but left behind on my desk. Like the fact that I lost track of the time on Monday afternoon and showed up late to an writing awards event to which my children — both runners-up in their separate age categories — had been invited. (Late to a writing celebration. Because I was caught up puzzling over budget numbers at the new writing center. Waaaah.) Luckily, even the people running that particular awards event were late to it; it was that kind of a Monday for lots of folks in town.

But I wouldn’t really be sharing this if I thought it was seriously problematic. I’m not sure you can give birth to something new — a child, a book, an organization — any other way. There will be some intellectual brown-outs; some helpful or not-so-helpful amnesia; some birthing and growing pains.

“The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing,” said a French painter named Eugene Delacroix.

Huge Prather said, “Perfectionism is slow death.”

And yet, the more we care about something, the more we take ownership of it, the harder it is to notice flaws without wincing.

I think of the great volunteers who have been busy at Raven Place all week. Several volunteers have grown so fond of their projects — from painting to woodwork — that they want it to be just exactly perfectly right! But it won’t be. We’re volunteers, not professional carpenters and painters. And we’re working in a house with a lot of history — so rare in Anchorage — that has been loved and used and fixed up by many interesting people before us. There are paint drips; there is old wiring; there is a shelf that someone sawed off in a crooked fury in order to fit in a refrigerator; and a doorway partially blocked by a recent drywall addition, which didn’t really bother us until we had to push a mattress around and past it, heaving and grunting the whole time. Talk about giving birth.

If you visit Raven Place this Saturday — or anytime this year — please do me a favor. When you see the little paint drip on a piece of trim overhead, or the strange fit of a piece of carpet in a dim corner, help all of us remember what that imperfection means. It means that people — some less-than-handy than others; some younger than others — weren’t afraid to lend a hand. It means that people cared enough to show up and step outside their comfort zones. It means the physical building has already taught us something important: that we’ll never be perfect. And that’s all right.

2 thoughts on “Andromeda: “Sneek Peak” and other thoughts on imperfection”

  1. Well said! And may we all freely toss around a favorite real estate euphemism – charm – when commenting on the quirks of our little, old house. Places like this serve as quasi-metaphors for modern-day Alaska: slapped together in fits and starts.

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