The Meaning of Perfection

… is the working title of one of the poetry anthologies I’m aiming to get released later this year. In part, the title reflects my own journey with perfectionism and arriving to the point of “letting go” when it comes to my art.

It’s also about the journey of life – finding perfection in each moment, in every season, phase of life, and environment on this beautiful planet. Most of the poetry in this anthology was written around the winter solstice 2022 and then later around the summer solstice 2023, both periods spent in Saskatchewan, Canada. This is a land of extreme polar opposites when it comes to climate – and a place where I’ve experienced a lot of duality in many aspects of life. To name just a few examples, there is both unspoilt wild nature and vast stretches of mono-crop – harmful industrial agriculture at its peak. There is both a strong feeling of spirit, and a hurtful history of destruction (when it comes to the indigenous peoples and their lands). The dualities I’ve observed have given rise to a lot of writing, as I’ve worked on finding my own inner peace with where I’m at and with the world around me – despite the flaws I can find and criticisms I can make.

In terms of perfectionism and the artist’s journey, I’ve been reflecting on how perfectionism can be both a blessing and a curse – depending on how you work with it.

It took me nearly two decades to publish/release my novel Siege into the world – in part due to my obsessive perfectionism. In some ways, that really served me when it came to that book. It needed for me to grow up, to weave in my more mature voice and life experiences, and blend them in with my childish sense of magic and wonder.

The time it took for me to publish Siege also enabled me to develop my own style, inner confidence and maturity – to truly share myself authentically, with pride for my own unique form of expression. I’m not here to try and please everyone – indeed there will be those who do not like the way I write, or what I have to say. The journey of bringing Siege to life allowed me to internally come to terms with that. Along the way, I have faced much rejection, criticism, and judgment – as well as received praise, and seen faces light up with joy at my work. I’ve learned that it’s much better to be true to myself and my voice – because that’s what will deeply touch the hearts of those I’m meant to touch.

Somewhere between the folly of our mistakes, 
times spent in slumber when we missed the signs

came a gentle blessing, tumbling through on the breeze.

A reminder, of the perfection
in the journey.

On another hand, perfectionism can manifest as a curse – if you allow it to block you from expressing, and freeze you in your path. When perfectionism gets out of hand, it may develop into a limiting voice in your mind that inhibits you. You might find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others you view as “better”, and try to shape yourself into something/someone that isn’t you. Or, you might compare yourself to an unattainable standard – that paralyses you, as you endlessly chase an ideal you’ll never reach (just like a legendary pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, that can’t be found in this reality). All that is ultimately destructive. Yes, it is great to strive, to grow and improve your art. But there comes a point when you must let go, and embrace the perfection in the imperfect: of all that’s raw and authentically human.

In a way, the paralysis that we may experience as artists by seeking perfection can have similarities with the paralysis we may experience from looking at external problems in the world. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to look out there and observe all the ways in which civilisation is messing things up – from pollution and degradation of the natural world, to social problems, wealth discrepancies, class divisions, racism and so on. Sometimes it might feel like there’s nothing we can do to make a difference – when faced with such an avalanche of darkness crashing down.

But we must keep on going, and doing the little things that we can to improve within ourselves, then allowing that change to ripple out – little by little, no matter how slow it may seem. When the external world is getting me down, I try to practice using it as a mirror for my internal world, and tool for personal development and growth. How can I alchemise the criticisms and judgments? Instead of getting bogged down in the negativity we see out there, we can invite ourselves to step deeper into our path, to better ourselves, and make the personal changes in our lives that we do have the power to make.

Back to art: my tip for those artist perfectionists out there is to lean in to your authentic voice/expression. Don’t try to be someone else – you will never quite be able to be something that you’re not, because that’s external to you. You can only work on polishing the true diamond inside of you. Your authenticity is beautiful, real, and human. And shining your unique light may just be the inspiration someone else needs to see, to rise more fully into their own light.

On that note, I’m really proud of my love Alex Flett for releasing his next album “A Bridge Between Worlds”! If you’d like to check it out, you can find it on all streaming platforms or on his Bandcamp here.

Have a beautiful weekend,


p.s. The photo for this post was taken at the Napatak Ramble Music Festival we performed at in Northern Saskatchewan last weekend! I highly recommend this festival for the great nature and community vibes, with such a safe and kid-friendly space too. Thank you so much to the hosts, sponsors, and all of the crew and volunteers who make this festival possible! And a big thank you to those who bought a copy of my novel – it means a lot to have your support, and I enjoy meeting with my readers, sharing the inspiration behind the story, and exchanging energy.

Published by Cara Amy Goldthorpe

Storyteller, holistic health guide, and lawyer, with a mission to promote health and ways of living more harmoniously on this planet and with each other.

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