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Is Perfection An Imperfect Idea? Lessons From The Natural World

I was walking in the park this morning. Past the hundreds of thousands of millions of leaves, all applauding each other in the wind.

Which one of them isn’t perfect?

Which leaf hasn’t “lived up to its potential”?

Which has “fallen short”?

They seem like slightly ridiculous questions. (And yet, are there times that you ask them of yourself?)

In light of all of these leaves, the idea of “perfection” seems suddenly a bit lifeless and arbitrary next to the endless, vibrant variations dripping from the boughs. 

Take this particular leaf, in the photo above, that I picked up off the path where it had fallen in front of me.

Not really “perfect” by any conventional measure. It’s not symmetrical, there’s bits that are brittle and brown. And even the odd hole in it.


But if you look closer…


And closer still…


…it starts to become its very own artwork. Unpredictably beautiful. Offering so much more than perhaps “perfection” ever could.


So what can you take from all of this?
Are there any questions you’d like to put to your “inner therapist” about it all?
Maybe something like:

Which parts of you want to stop having to live up to some arbitrary ideal you insist on moulding yourself to?

Which parts of you are tired of having a standard laid down for them which is unrealistic (and possibly someone else’s standard anyway) and might never be reached?  

And which parts might you start to see a kind of artistry in instead of “failure” or “imperfection”?
Where you might be able to appreciate the unpredictable nuances of life, growing and showing its unique patterns in you…



Text and photos copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Is Perfection An Imperfect Idea? Lessons From The Natural World

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2012). Is Perfection An Imperfect Idea? Lessons From The Natural World. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 Jan 2012
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