For Lent I’ve given up perfectionism.
From March 1 to April 15 this year I am giving up on straight A’s. I’m giving up my great love of A’s and the A’s that I always dreamed my daughters would care about (yet don’t). No A’s for perfectly good behavior, either. I’m embracing being the good-enough parent and the good-enough partner. I’m embracing being the good-enough, perfectly imperfect friend that I’ve always been anyway.
For Lent, I’m trying to leave my make-up on the shelf. I’m dressing down. My husband will happily tell you that I have already been experimenting with leaving the dishes undone, the furniture undusted, the toilets unscrubbed, beds unmade, floors unvacuumed. But if I’m giving up perfectionism, then I think I’ll give up worrying about not being perfect, too.
Even more important, for Lent, I’m writing imperfect poems. I’m sharing my imperfect poems, reading them aloud to friends and posting them on my blog and even letting a few of them slip into my submission file. For Lent, at least, I’m embracing the imperfect poem and admitting that maybe that’s the only kind of poem there is.
I’m giving up perfectly designed baskets of daffodils and perfectly weeded flower beds and perfectly edged lawns.
This year I’m giving up on the perfect, award-winning, best-selling novel, the instant and beloved classic. Maybe I’ll write a short, bad book. Maybe I’ll just open my journal and scribble. For Lent, I’m winging it. No more caring about who will publish me. No more caring if someone guffaws or gasps at the awfulness of my attempts. My job, during this season of Lent, is to keep writing anyway, no matter if anyone ever listens or reads or passes my work along to a friend, and says “You’ve got to read this.”
During this season of Lent, I’m going to write it even if no one reads it.
Lent comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning spring or growth–the season opposite of fall–and it has a cognate in lengthen. For Lent this year, I’m giving up perfectionism. I’m letting things grow, willy-nilly. I’m letting them lengthen, and I’m going to see what happens then.