Victor Pelevin has been described by Time as a “psychedelic Nabokov for the cyber-age.” His 1996 “Buddha’s Little Finger” is, to my mind, an extended “who-am-I?” meditation (that utilizes Soviet and post-Soviet Russian cultural metaphors).

The following is a description of “ordinary perfection” from Pelevin’s writing:

“I [...] felt myself falling under the hypnotic influence of imminent danger. Chapaev began explaining something to two soldiers and I went over to the nearest horse and sank my fingers into his mane. I can recall that second perfectly – coarse hairs under my fingers, the slightly sour smell of a new leather saddle, a spot of sunlight on the wall in front of my face and a quite incredible, incomparable feeling of the completeness, the total reality of this world. I suppose it was the feeling which people attempt to express in phrases like “living to the full.” It lasted for no more than a single brief second, but that was long enough for me to realize yet again that this full, authentic sense of life can never, by its very nature, last any longer.” (p. 202).

Now: what is the anatomy of this moment? Let me highlight a couple of elements here.

1. “incomparable feeling of the completeness, the total reality of this world” – you see, we experience perfectionistic frustration when reality doesn’t conform to our theory of how reality should be; the fact is that it is our theory of how reality should be that doesn’t conform to how reality actually is; in moments of “ordinary perfection” there is no discrepancy between what we think should be and what actually is: the “total reality of this world” is somehow enough. Why is that? Have we lucked out and caught a glimpse of something rare? Perhaps. But perhaps, for a moment, we dropped our ego-based expectations of how reality should be and as a result we are rewarded by the “incomparable feeling of the completeness” of what is.

2. “I went over to the nearest horse and sank my fingers into his mane. I can recall that second perfectly” – notice how such moments of “ordinary perfection” are anchored in sensation (feeling) rather than cognition (thought).

3. “I suppose it was the feeling which people attempt to express in phrases like “living to the full.” The key word here “attempt.” Moments of “ordinary perfection” are beyond words. All descriptions are but approximations of the ineffable.

4. “It lasted for no more than a single brief second, but that was long enough for me to realize yet again that this full, authentic sense of life can never, by its very nature, last any longer.” I am not sure if I entirely agree with Pelevin here. I do, however, agree that in these moments of “ordinary perfection” there is, indeed, a change in time perception.

Learning to recognize ordinary perfection is a vital existential skill.  What helps you in this process?  Share your perfection-recognition know-how.

 


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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (June 30, 2010)






    Last reviewed: 9 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Somov, P. (2010). Ordinary Perfection on Demand. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindful-living/2010/06/ordinary-perfection-on-demand/

 

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Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. is the author of The Lotus Effect, Present Perfect, The Smoke-Free Smoke Break, and Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.


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