I consider myself a morning person; I think best in the morning, I love the smell of morning air, I love to watch the day unfold, and I’m usually grouchy or silly in the evening. All that being said, I do not like to get out of bed in the morning. Often I wake up before dawn, turn on my lamp and read until the rest of the family begins to stir, then, unable to concentrate, I lay down my book and tell myself that I really ought to get up. For several minutes I will then relax with the virtuous feeling that I have made a wise decision. Then I will realize that I am way too comfortable and again I will say: you really ought to get up. After a few more minutes I will reach over and turn out the light. That was not a good idea, but the light is off anyway, so I might as well make a plan for the day. And so it will go on for another fifteen minutes until I finally drag myself out of bed and face the music. Not my daily tasks, I love my work. Not my family, I love them too, but the annoying little detail that I will have to find something in my closet to wear.
Sometimes I think wistfully of the descriptions of a girl’s wardrobe in the Little House books or the Trapp Family Singers. Five dresses for summer and three for winter. How simple that would make my life! If only I lived in a culture where such a life was acceptable. If only I had a taste for fashion. If only . . . But why do clothes bother me so much? After all they are really insignificant, hardly worth all this worry and procrastination. Small things, insignificant things, are sometimes the most annoying things in life. If only there was some rule like, you must wear an pink cardigan and khaki pants every second Thursday! I could be content, I think, looking bad as long as it was not my fault.
My daily struggle reminds me strongly of Philippa Gordon from Anne of the Island. She could not choose between her hats, or her suitors, not because she had no opinions, nor because she did not care, but because she had lots of opinions and cared very much indeed. She was a perfectionist and because of that she relegated the choice of which hat to wear to chance, she made no choice. Likewise I, in my obsessive concern for perfection, stalemate myself with fear.
This temptation, I think, is often forgotten by perfectionists but none the less worthy of attention. We must not only learn to bear our imperfections with equanimity but to persevere in things which consistently defeat us, without worrying. Whether it is an attempt to dress well or something of greater importance it is counterproductive to let a presentiment of failure hamper action. As G.K. Chesterton writes: “if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”