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The pursuit of perfection
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What is it in human beings, in general, that inspires the sometimes-lifelong pursuit of perfection? Perfection is an elusive thing - if it even exists. The pursuit is like chasing an ephemeral sprite through a darkening forest. Now you see it. Now you don't. What seems perfect in one moment can be altered in an instant by a change in one's emotions, the arrival of new information or a new light that is shined on what was thought to be a flawless object.

Perfection doesn't come in shades of black or white. It cannot be determined by some all-wise, all knowing entity. Perfection exists only in the mind of the beholder, and we humans are notoriously fickle when it comes to the perception of perfection. It does not exist in a vacuum, and we are misguided if we think someone else can define perfection for us. What seems perfect to me - if only for a moment - may be far what you deem to be so.

Yet, we persist in thinking that perfection exists and can be attained, and if we can only achieve it or capture it, our lives will themselves become perfect. No such thing. If we convince ourselves that we have seen or identified or grasped perfection, it will slip out of our hands like trying to hold water. Ah, but the pursuit - as said before - can last a lifetime. It can be fun or frustrating, invigorating or ultimately disheartening. It can lead one down many dead end roads or inspire a life's most creative and adventuresome experiences.

The word "perfect" is defined variously as "lacking nothing essential to the whole," "without defect," "flawless," "pure," and "delightful in all respects," as in a "perfect" day. Days can be more easily called perfect that almost anything else I can think of. Except, perhaps, a perfect tomato, and I do believe such a tomato exists!

Local tomatoes are beginning to ripen, but we are still a few weeks away from summer's bounteous crop, when we can launch the heated hunt for the perfect one. We'll have to sample bushels of them to find it, but the discovery is worth every red globe consumed in the search. But like anything else that might be deemed perfect, it's here one moment and gone the next when gobbled up greedily.

Perhaps it is that searching for something or someone that exists in a state of perfection is what inspires hope in our lives. It is hope that breathes resilience and optimism into our spirits; it is hope for better outcomes or better days or for a just resolution to daunting societal or environmental dilemmas that inspires hard work on behalf of good causes. Someone who has no hope, including someone who can't grasp the fact that hope is available to everyone, leads a doomed and dreary life.

Hope is something dished out in full measure every day by health and beauty guru Dr. Oz, who in the metro Atlanta television market has snapped up countless former Oprah viewers left dangling when her daily 4 p.m. show reached its end. His focus is largely do-it-yourself health and beauty regimens with an emphasis on alternative medical treatments, diet, nutrition and exercise.

Hope is something that thousands of his viewers come seeking, particularly hope in the form of remedies to turn back the clock or to stave off the march of time. In his effervescent way, Dr. Oz gives his viewers every reason to believe there's a remedy, if not a cure, for every question, malady or issue and that it doesn't come in the form of a prescription pill bottle. We come away bursting with the hope, perhaps even belief, that we can alter or affect our own health and looks, even if the result is not perfect beauty.

I've latched onto one of his somewhat recent suggestions for a morning drink that is high fiber, low calorie and packed with nutrients. Devotees of the Dr. Oz Green Drink swear it melts off weight, improves skin, boosts energy and shoots your body up with maximum vitamins and detoxifying substances.

Here's the recipe: two cups spinach, one rib celery, one bunch parsley, two apples cored and chunked up, two cucumbers peeled but not seeded, one thumbnail-sized piece of fresh ginger root, the juice of one lime and the juice of one-half lemon. I used a blender the first time I made it, but it threatened to overheat on me, so I've switched to a food processor. Add some ice cubes or water to make it less thick as you blend or process. This amount will make enough for three, maybe four servings. Store it in the fridge, of course. A friend and I have pledged to meet in three weeks to judge the effects on each other. Hope, they say, springs eternal.

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics.