Deliberate Flaws

45. CHANGES
In retrospect, even those accomplishments
which seemed perfect when accomplished,
may seem imperfect and ill formed,
but this does not mean that such accomplishments
have outlived their usefulness.
That which once seemed full,
may later empty seem,
yet still be unexhausted.
That which once seemed straight
may seem twisted when seen once more;
intelligence can seem stupid,
and eloquence seem awkward;
movement may overcome the cold,
and stillness, heat,
but stillness in movement
is the way of the Tao.

Trying to make your work perfect is a sure way to drive yourself crazy. Part of my initial attraction to computers and programming was it played to my perfectionistic bent, but I quickly learned that total perfection was an impossible goal, and the way to success was to anticipate and plan for failures, to deliberately build your program to handle the flaws in the data that was entered.

Our financial system today failed to plan for failure. Our economy as a whole fails to plan for failure. We leave people without a system of support when things go wrong. Our entire health care system is built around failure. We try to heal sick people instead of trying to keep people well and strong. We look for symptoms instead of systemic wholeness, and treat weaknesses instead of strengths. We focus on what people cannot do instead of on what they can do. We look at ourselves, and see our flaws, but don’t realize that they are deliberate, that we focus on how they make us weak instead of the ways they can make us stronger. We indulge our weaknesses, rather than nurturing our growing strengths.

We shouldn’t be propping up the old system that is failing, dying. We should be looking around for ways to encourage new things to grow. Not perfect new things, but ones that can be strong enough to overcome their flaws.