I used to be perfect — in my mother’s eyes. And when I was in school I worked at maintaining that 4.0 grade-point average. When I played tennis in high school and college, I wanted and strove for that perfect win record. I even won an award for excellence in the Burger King I was running shortly after college. But what was the cost? Anxiety? Stress? Sleep?
The media today challenges us all to be perfect in many ways. Just a few are the needs for perfect bodies, perfect clothing and a perfect life! At some point in my life, perhaps when my wife and I had kids, I didn’t need to be perfect anymore. It’s a good thing too, because it never would have been possible with three daughters and a wife, two Burger King Restaurants to run, and a 5-acre apple, cherry, prune and apricot orchard to care for.
Perfection is a worthy goal and more important in some things — like landing a rover on Mars — but in everyday life it often becomes a killer. The stress of perfection can kill. Self-induced stress by working long hours can kill. Body shaming by adults and teenagers can kill. An obsession with thinness can kill.
I am so lucky somewhere along the way I learned that my self-esteem or reputation wasn’t damaged by a few coddling moth holes in my apples. That losing on the tennis court from time to time, or my children dressing themselves “uniquely” for school, or a few dead spots in my lawn wasn’t the end of the world.
Here at Garden Terrace low-income senior apartments, it is not a perfect world, just like rest of the Wenatchee Valley. And I doubt we would want it to be too utopian. Remember what happens in all those “Twilight Zone” episodes when everything is perfect? The alien “To Serve Man” manual is actually a recipe book! The astronauts on a “perfect” planet are actually being observed under a giant microscope.
Utopia and perfection mean there is no more work to do. And you know as well as I do that there is still plenty of work to do. But, if everything was perfect it would be impossible not to become complacent and be tempted to rest on our laurels. What fun would that be?
Our staff at Garden Terrace has a couple of goals that we keep front and center:
Elevate the resident experience
Attract tomorrow’s residents
Strengthen financial sustainability
Distinguish Garden Terrace as a remarkable community
Be a great place to work
We are doing pretty well, but we’re not perfect yet. Thank God.
Kenneth E. Neher is executive director of the Garden Terrace senior living community, for whom he writes “Senior Moments.” These columns periodically appear in The Wenatchee World.