“Even imperfection itself may have its ideal or perfect state.”
—Thomas de Quincey
Quickly disabused. Whenever I am confronted with a problem or new idea, I immediately ask, “What is the ideal?” Why not begin from the ideal? We do not start from that perspective nearly enough, either as individuals or collectively as a people. Robert Browning summed it up so well with, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”
I so like Browning’s précis; it clearly constructs what human beings can be, which is aspirational. We aspire to be… and our only limitations are our imaginations (oh, and a viable plan, hard work, capital and doggedness). All my readers are intelligent — what else could you be — so you have quickly determined the one “fly in the ointment” is: from whose ideal are we working? Isn’t that always the rub? But not when fantasizing about one’s self.
My daydreams about myself involve a number of qualities that 1.) I do not possess or, 2.) Possess in insufficient quantity. A quality I do not possess is higher math. I would like to be able grasp in my bones, oh, string theory or quantum mechanics, or how mathematically there might be seven dimensions instead of just the one (yawn) we humans experience. Perhaps, if I really, really applied myself, I might become knowledgably conversant in such matters, but I don’t think so. Oh, I can read (and comprehend) a synopsis as well as the next individual, but I’m talking about grasping the nuances and the underlying theories. Understanding mathematics for me must be like what a true believer in God must experience. Bottom line — you just take it on faith.
If I were remaking myself, I’d add three inches (Height! Three inches taller!). I’d have Smokey Robinson eyes (green) and look like myself, only no turkey neck. I could have been a weatherman (a contender) on Channel 6 only I’d have insisted, “No side shots!” But, alas, sigh. But for turkey neck, I could have been one of those happy-smiling TV guys who exist (come alive) for bad weather.
But that I could dance like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. This has been a fantasy of mine ever since I first saw what these guys could do with their feet (and minds). Effortlessly graceful. Except, of course, the effort was monumental. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Grace, these men had elegance.
I was prompted to think about what the ideal male would consist of last week and the first two things I noted in my chapbook were 1. Write like Mark Twain and 2. Think like Emily Dickinson. The things I genuinely value besides relationships are ideas and writing. Oh, and of course, beauty, music, art, architecture, design and… I inwardly laughed when Emily Dickinson so quickly rolled up from the recesses of my mind as an ideal for being male. Where did that come from?
It came from an appreciation of what Dickinson accomplished — so much from so little. I have all her poetry, and has anyone ever so wonderfully captured the humanity (potential) of our species. Passionate vignettes of life and what it means to be alive (to think, to feel). To be human. Imperfect as we all are.
But my gawd, to dance with Ginger Rogers. Hum it, “I’m in heaven.” Perfection. Or, damn near close.
Jepson is a 24-year resident of Florida. He’s fiscally conservative, socially liberal, likes art and embraces diversity of opinion. Reach him at Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US