Thomas, sprang a question onto me out of thin air, “What would be your perfect life?” My young friend sometimes throws me off guard with his interrogations. Thomas likes to insert philosophical questions into our friendly conversations. His curiosity is something I like about his personality, even when he throws me a curve-ball.
Before waiting for my reply, Thomas explained his definition and understanding of the term “perfect” as regards a human life: Perfect would be optimal living. The life would contain all the desirable characteristics, elements, and scenarios the person can imagine. The life would be absolutely free from defects and faults as possible.
I said that to live life within such parameters would not only be improbable but could be almost impossible to attain. Perfection in living is a highly subjective concept.
Thomas insisted that he understands that his idea of perfection is different than anyone else’s. It’s just like his brother’s favorite kind of cake is different from his own favorite cake. His brother could eat angel food cake forever. Meantime the very sight of angel food cake triggers Thomas’ gag reflex. Actually, Thomas prefers cookies instead of any type of cake.
I asked what are his favorite cookies. He insists that freshly baked chocolate chip would be perfection. Could he envision a diet consisting solely of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies? He answered, “no, of course not.”
In turn, I pointed out that his original question about the perfect life could be answered differently depending upon the time of day and how moody I would be. However, for argument’s sake, my perfect life would include a blissful relationship with my BF in a cozy house on the Pacific Coast, within driving distance of Carmel and San Francisco. I’d enjoy excellent health, and have an abundance of wealth to allow me to travel anywhere on Earth on a whim. My perfect life would take place in a world where racism, homophobia, and every other type of bigotry does not exist. Poverty and illness would no longer haunt people anywhere on the planet. This is my short answer.
Thomas explained his perfect lifestyle. He would like to live in France, somewhere near the Mediterranean Sea. He would live in an antique house with high-tech upgrades. Excellent health would also be a priority and he’d like to be rich enough for world travel and continuing education at the finest universities. He’d ideally like to have a girl friend, but that’s not a priority right now. Thomas says that while he daydreams about these, there is something important lacking.
I understand what my friend meant. You can take the example of the humble man wanting to improve his form of transportation. He first desires a bicycle so he won’t have to walk everywhere. After acquiring a bike, he would like to travel while being protected from the elements, so he eventually gets a small, used car. While driving his little car, he sees a Mercedes and wants one of his own. While driving his Mercedes, he wishes for a Lamborghini. On and on his fantasies go. He’ll never find transportation perfection. How can he ever live the perfect life?
Thomas agreed that perfection is an illusion. Such perfection is as illusory as the concept of Heaven. Each belief system and believer has a different idea about the nature of Heaven. Isn’t it better to live in the here and now? Isn’t perfection simply an ideal or a mirage? Don’t we wish for perfection in vain? One person’s Heaven is another person’s Hell and vice versa. Just like Thomas’ brother’s angel food cake.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders something from the Ancient Roman emperor-philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. “Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’ But we need to eliminate unnecessary assumptions as well. To eliminate the unnecessary actions that follow.”