2016-03-19 Sat

Perfection

In a conversation yesterday we discussed sports, specifically “what sports did you play as a kid in Australia, Chris?”. I replied that we didn’t play sports as children. We were taught to Win – which my team rarely did.

I was knocked unconscious in my first game of Aussie Rules at the age of ten. That turned me off Aussie Rules for life.

Cricket was spent mainly standing around in a field of dried-grass under a blazing sun with no-one to talk with and nothing to do except pick my nose.

In rugby I was the smallest on the team and so was the hooker, the guy who swings from the shoulders of the bigger guys and gets smashed by the vicious brutes on the opposing team, unless it is time to get run over by a half-dozen out-of-control buses.

Not until I was fifty was I introduced to playing a ball game (racquetball, by Sandra). Neither of us knew the rules, but there were two racquets and a rubber ball, so we spent an hour trying to keep the dribbling ball in motion, sometimes above the lines, sometimes below, sometimes actually ON the lines. Then we went and enjoyed lunch.

In short, I was raised to believe that in sport Perfection To The Point Of Winning was all that counted.

In my youth I was academic, and one time came second in my class, the top streamed class in the top high school in the state. My father’s comment “What went wrong?”.

I have to be in control.

I have to have the last word in any argument.

Perfection.

This afternoon I made myself another cup of tea. Plugged in the electric jug, or more correctly, placed the jug on its electric stand, the stand which supplies power to the jug.

I daren’t leave the jug on the stand because the thermostat switch broke the last time I cleaned the jug with that calcium and lime remover stuff and the jug no longer switches itself off.

So why don’t I do what every other north American citizen would do – toss the broken jug in the trash and buy a new one?

Because, dammit, the jug still boils water for my tea. It hasn’t lost its ability to boil water.

The jug is no longer perfect, but I don’t care. I’d rather save the $25 for something else – such as a nice steak-frites in the Ilê de France next fall.

Besides, while the jug is not perfect (because the switch is broken) it boils water perfectly well.

Which makes it perfect-enough for me.

Observations

When I was a child I read with awe about people who have read The Bible; in some cases the story went that “he had read The Bible three times, from front to back”.

When I was a child in church, parts of The Bible were read at each service, and these parts seemed so small so that The Bible seemed so impossibly big.

I could not imagine sitting down to read The Bible. A good Enid Blyton, yes. A good Richmal Compton, yes. And weren’t they all good?

Older now, and atheist, I have little faith in The Bible, excepting for parts of behaviour that make sense regardless of the existence of a god – be nice to your neighbours, look after the poor, and so on.

Yet when I am sitting in a free lunchtime concert I pick up The Bible and read it. I started at page 1 last year and am pretty well through the thing already.

I am not tempted to take notes and draw family trees; I note with passing interest how kings armies slew hundreds of thousands of the enemy, carried off or murdered the women and children; made slaves; freed slaves and so on.

But I can’t see what the big deal was about someone who “had read The Bible three times, from front to back”.

Unless the stories I read stem from the days when frontier literacy was rare, and to be able to read was a feat; being able to read the entire bible would have been a greater feat – after all, the educated minister only managed a few verses each Sunday. And reading it three times – Well!