Monday, December 15, 2008

Past Perfect

In the Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging (, Arianna Huffington observes that “perfect” can often be the enemy of “done.” The pursuit of perfection can be an excuse for not getting things done. The time and energy expended in this elusive pursuit could be used to better effect.

In undertaking this blog, I’ve been introduced to new ways of sharing ideas over the internet. I’m learning how to shift from essay mode to blog mode—communicating ideas and questions now—not pursuing some elusive perfect expression or resolution. Just share the idea. Ask the question. Start a conversation.

What has this to do with caregiving? Well, often caregivers, like new mothers, try to do everything perfectly, despite the fact that they may have no training or experience in providing this type of care. Family members and friends may back away from providing assistance because they worry that they won’t perform the service perfectly. Sometimes this quest for perfection becomes a convenient excuse for procrastination or neglect.

Whether it’s making a meal, cramming a wheel chair into a trunk or keeping vigil in a sick room—if you wait for perfection to arrive, nothing will happen. Life is messy. You can make mistakes. It’s okay. Just do something.

The same holds true for needed conversations that don’t occur because nobody wants to have them—about advance directives, “Do Not Resuscitate” forms, disposition of assets, funeral arrangements, etc. There is no perfect time to talk about these matters or to complete the forms and get them on record. There is no perfect speech to deliver on any of these topics. You just have to start the conversation and live in the moment. Get past “perfect.”

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