“What would a perfect world look like?” This seems like such a simple question, doesn’t it? We think we know what “perfection” means, but let’s play a game just to see how difficult this concept really is. We’ll start with a simple test: “Would a perfect world have termites?” My wife used to joke about termites “cranking up their little bulldozers” and starting to work. We laughed about that, but we had no problem spraying the little buggers silly when they invaded a spot in our garage. In my perfect world, I wouldn’t have to worry about termites nibbling anything with a mortgage. But termites are also an important part of woodland decay. And termites are a source of food for animals such as monkeys and for some very funky restaurants that I don’t plan to visit. So we can’t really outlaw termites in our perfect world, can we?
Ok, it wasn’t fair to pick on lovable little termites cruising around in their heavy digging equipment. Let’s go for something more obviously bad: something like rust. Would a perfect world contain rust? I’ve owned a few BBQ grills. They’ve all rusted. In fact, I’ve only seen one BBQ grill that wasn’t rusted. It belonged to my uncle, a man who spent his entire life keeping order in his house, his garden and his toolshed. But he was a rust-free exception. So would the world be better off without rust? No. Rust is a byproduct of oxidation, and oxidation is a process that’s required for existence. You and I oxidize, so technically we’re no better than rust. Rust needs to stay in our perfect world.
Do you see the problem? When we attempt to define perfection, we fall short. If I think a perfect world should be free from mosquitos, I’ll anger the fish. If I then decide the angry fish have to leave my perfect world, I’ll anger funky restaurant owners who just served their last termite casserole and planned to make a killing on spicy fish-head soup. No matter what I do, I can’t conceive of or achieve perfection in this realm. And that’s fine. This realm isn’t about perfection. We’re in a reality where we rust, dodge mosquitos, and watch termites dine on our garages. This is what we’ve got. It’s ugly, and it’s brutal, and it’s far from perfect, termite pot pie and all.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.