My brother was kind of a perfectionist. Much like Enzo Ferrari was kind of a car guy. Ten years my senior, Bob took it upon himself to make me his apprentice…. in all aspects of life, I think. He instilled many standards and values in me which remain today, long after I’ve become an adult, and long after he has left this world.
I thought about some of those values today as I was waxing the car — which of course, given our age ranges, was something he made sure I knew how to do right. No missed triangles of unbuffed surface. No white smudges left uncleaned. No waxing over dried bugs or road tar. No gobs of product in the seams or door locks. There are standards! I can even hear him squawking because the product I used today wasn’t really wax – it was one of those liquid polymers that seals and protects with far less work than a real wax. My calling it wax would grind on his OCD perfectionism, but given the last time this car was treated with anything, I’m sure it’s thrilled to have even a polymer coat.
But there I was, applying and buffing and appreciating the improvement in the car’s surface. This liquid stuff says not to use it on plastics, and when I discovered a smudge on one of the trim pieces, I learned why. It absolutely will not buff off of plastic. Oh well, removing it is a project for another day.
I got all the metal done on the car, except for the roof. I would need a step ladder and frankly, I just don’t feel like climbing up and down a step ladder today. Bob’s ashes are smoking in the scattering ground where they were laid, I’m sure. How could a responsible little sister leave the car unfinished?
Well, I have news for that old brother of mine…. I didn’t scrub the plastic panels and condition them today, either. I didn’t vacuum the inside or clean the upholstery. I didn’t detail the dash. And I still haven’t installed the aftermarket car clock I’ve had in the glove box for years.
Life is not about perfection; it’s about improvement. It’s about making progress where you can, even if you can’t finish it all in one run. I’ve been known to clean a sink one day, a toilet another day, mirrors another day, and a shower stall another day still when life was so crazy I couldn’t get a straight 20 minutes to clean the whole bathroom. You do what works. You do what you can.
If things dial up favorably, I’ll finish the plastic panels this weekend. Maybe even the roof. And sometime soon afterward, I’d like to get to the interior, even though it isn’t that bad now. Not sure when I’ll ever get to the clock. Bob’s perfectionism had a procrastination component; he’d understand about the clock.
So here I am, defiant in the face of early training. Some might say “imprinting” it goes so deep. And I am happy with progress. I don’t need perfection. In another life scenario I may even have tried to persuade him to lower the bar and enjoy his life a little more easily. For now, I shall have to do that for the both of us, a mix of lessons that bend and lessons that don’t, as I carry him always in my heart.
(c) 2019, J. Cools