Join 3,415 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How to be Perfect
May 7, 2014 12:20 AM   Subscribe

Excerpts from "How to be Perfect" by Ron Padgett.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (92 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don't do anything to make it impossible.

easy to say ...
posted by philip-random at 1:08 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah I'm always put off a bit by the feel-good quotes from others. I knew in about the 4th grade that I would be too tall to be an astronaut (I'm now 6'4") so after I found that out I kinda gave up on school. It's nice to think that everything is in your grasp, but someone like me is never going to space nor win the Preakness as a jockey.
posted by efalk at 1:18 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


Don't put that nasty butter salt on your popcorn. Change the oil in your car every few years. Register to vote.
posted by thelonius at 1:27 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I logged in just to say I love this poem. I'm signed up for the daily trio from the usual suspects, but the Writer's Almanac poems are the most reliably well-chosen. Of those hundreds a year, I've been moved enough by maybe 40 over the last few years to save, read again and share. This is one of those.
posted by kemrocken at 2:09 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Try to fight the creeping sense of dread with temporal things
posted by scose at 2:12 AM on May 7 [22 favorites]


Wear sunscreen.
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:14 AM on May 7 [9 favorites]


buy stuff
posted by fistynuts at 2:14 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Will this make me fitter, happier, more productive?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:26 AM on May 7 [9 favorites]


Try to fight the creeping sense of dread with temporal things

I disagree. Time travel has never made dealing with Nyarlathotep easier or less distressing. In my experience.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:37 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Well efalk, Jim Wetherbee is 6'4" and he was an astronaut, so perhaps you shouldn't have given up on school after all ...
posted by Megami at 2:42 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:45 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Take an interest in your dream life.

Let yourself feel shitty and out of control, but only for 10 minutes of the day.

Develop a sense of right and wrong outside of feel-good-isms.

Strive to do things and not to be someone.

---

And one more from Epictitus: Ask not that events should happen as you will, but let your will be that events should happen as they do, and you shall have peace.
posted by Taft at 3:34 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


Let your dog sleep on the foot of the bed. In the morning, a wet nose is a happier alarm clock.
posted by mochapickle at 3:41 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Floss.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:55 AM on May 7


Develop a sense of right and wrong outside of feel-good-isms.

I think the point is you develop a sense of right and wrong through these practices. It's how to live a calm life.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:56 AM on May 7


Life is a long-form improv.

There's nothing wrong with doing something just to have a story to tell.

Read weird books.

Forgive people and don't cause trouble.

Know when to stop thinking about something, and how: by focusing on something else.

Learn basic bread baking; it's classy, fun, cheap, and so tasty.

Take time to do nothing but listen to music.

Take time to not even do that.
posted by mbrock at 4:02 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Everybody needs a hug.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:32 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


take out the trash
"Tout le monde veut sauver la plan├Ęte, mais personne ne veut descendre les poubelles"
- everybody wants to save the planet but nobody wants to take out the trash
Jean Yanne
posted by rongorongo at 4:41 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Comment even when you have nothing to say.
posted by orme at 5:32 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Favorite notyou.
posted by notyou at 5:40 AM on May 7 [30 favorites]


Drink plenty of water. When asked what you would like to drink, say, "Water, please."

Whoa whoa WHOA! I was all onboard until this. Will no one think of the gin-makers?
posted by billiebee at 5:40 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Mix your own drinks.
posted by hat_eater at 5:48 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


If he can say "Do not go crazy a lot", then "If you bang your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20 minutes" doesn't make any sense. It's a lot easier to not bang my finger with a hammer than to not go crazy.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 5:50 AM on May 7


Also, who bangs their fingers with hammers? Thumbs, yes, but fingers? Am I doing it wrong?
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 5:53 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


If you're holding nails with both thumbs, then yes, you're doing it wrong.
posted by Etrigan at 5:55 AM on May 7 [7 favorites]


If you have a dog, make sure to brush his teeth. Use a good enzyme toothpaste; perhaps one that's supposed to taste like meatloaf.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:02 AM on May 7


It is possible you will see hooded figures in the dog park. Do not approach them.
posted by Foosnark at 6:15 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Be pithy.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:28 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Don't serve gin until you've drunk up all the after-shave.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:52 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.
posted by Flunkie at 7:08 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


neither a borrower nor a lender be...
posted by ennui.bz at 7:15 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Ron Padgett is a great poet! His collected poems were recently published by Coffee House Press.
posted by gwint at 7:17 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


sometimes it is more perfect to get smart with the police.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:26 AM on May 7


Drive to work without wrecking the car

Don't yell at anybody

Eat something before you die of hunger

Take a damn 5-minute break from the computer

Don't read the comments

Feeble attempt to make progress with extracurricular avocation

Six hours is almost enough sleep
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:30 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


[gentle Garrison Keillor voice]

"Excerpts from Trainspotting."

Choose life.

Choose a job.

Choose a career.

Choose a family.

Choose your future.

Choose life.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:31 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Crush your enemies.

See them driven before you.

Hear the lamentation of their women.
posted by jeribus at 7:37 AM on May 7 [33 favorites]


If you ever get rich

don't be mean to poor people

like you are now
posted by leotrotsky at 7:41 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


When swimming: don't just use your legs.
posted by rongorongo at 7:47 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Don't bet on things you can't control -- horses, cards, other people.

Don't bet on things you can control if you can't afford to lose the money.
posted by Etrigan at 7:48 AM on May 7


If you eat the plums that were in the ice box, leave a god-damned note.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 7:54 AM on May 7 [33 favorites]


Low fat is stupid unless you have a specific digestive issue.
posted by planetesimal at 8:22 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Give no fucks.
posted by desjardins at 8:26 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


My favorite from the post is:

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.
posted by jsturgill at 8:41 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Come as close as you can to living the life that you imagine.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:51 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Always have a memory that makes you laugh on hand.

Also carry one that makes you realize that life is very short and you are a small part of it.
posted by onesidys at 8:53 AM on May 7


Die well.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:55 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


If a mysterious woman who could be the twin of your bandleader's dead wife is cold and in jail, give her your jacket.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:05 AM on May 7 [9 favorites]


Always buy the absolute best condiments, and condoms, that you can afford.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:15 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Never get less than twelve hours sleep

Never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city

Never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body
posted by billiebee at 9:19 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


It's just impossible to put a Cadillac up your nose.
posted by haricotvert at 9:22 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Trust your gut and nobody elses. Even if its sticky, slimy, freshly harvested and on a plate in front of you.
posted by cacofonie at 9:25 AM on May 7


Never wear brown shoes with a blue suit.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:33 AM on May 7


Remain vigilant at all times and in all places.

Always have an escape route planned.

Remember: they are always watching, they are always listening.

Beware the black, windowless van.
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:46 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Eschew obfuscation.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:54 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Don't wear running shoes unless you are running or are about to run.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:57 AM on May 7


Try it on before you buy it.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:58 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Never wear black shoes with a blue suit. Consider wearing brown shoes with a blue suit.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:59 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Never wear shoes or suits.
posted by Bistle at 10:07 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Goddammit, you've got to be kind.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:20 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Oh, I neber wear chooz. Dey make me fall down.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:22 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Ride clipped in, you weenie.
posted by planetesimal at 10:31 AM on May 7


No se puede vivir sin amar.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:34 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Don't trim your toes with a carving knife...don't climb inside old freezers
posted by rongorongo at 10:43 AM on May 7


NEVER
- trust nor confide in anyone
- use your own telephone
- touch revenge documents with your bare hands
- leave evidence laying around, however circumstantial
- threaten your victim

ALWAYS
- be a garbage collector
- bide your time
- secure a "mail drop" address in another city
- learn everything there is to know about your victim
- trade with merchants who have never heard of you
- use cash
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:53 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Have the foresight to be born white, male, and rich, without health problems.

(Without snark, try to be nice to yourself and let things outside your control go. Both are very hard to do.)
posted by maxwelton at 11:36 AM on May 7


Fight for your right to party.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:01 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


my life has been greatly improved since I decided a few years ago to banish the word "perfect" from my vocabulary, and replaced it with the word "ideal".
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:08 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


my life has been greatly improved since I decided a few years ago to banish the word "perfect" from my vocabulary, and replaced it with the word "ideal".

1) Perfection is the enemy of good enough.

2) That cuts both ways.
posted by Etrigan at 12:13 PM on May 7


Be the enemy of the good.
posted by srboisvert at 12:55 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Never wear brown shoes with a blue suit.

I am doing this right now. :(
posted by vorpal bunny at 1:49 PM on May 7


brown shoes with a blue suit is classy as fuck!
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:04 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Don't write banal lists.
posted by noaccident at 2:14 PM on May 7


Stay alert

Trust no-one

Keep your laser handy
posted by Sebmojo at 2:43 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Don't say 'I wish I had...', say 'next time I will...'
posted by Sebmojo at 2:45 PM on May 7


Move through the populace like a fish through water
posted by Sebmojo at 2:45 PM on May 7


Don't say 'I wish I had...', say 'next time I will...'

Next time I will ten million dollars? That doesn't make sense.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:39 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


What smells sweet in the store may stink in the stew-pot.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:47 PM on May 7


Comment your bash commands with #, to make for a richer .bash_history.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:53 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Omit needless words.
posted by neuron at 4:04 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Carry your maglite such that you may illuminate a room and beat up an intruder ad hoc simultaneously.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:09 PM on May 7


Waft the vapors delicately into your nostrils rather than sniff the compound directly.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:10 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Read this book.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:31 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


It is healthy to feel hungry, to have actual stomach rumblings, a few times a day.

Eat until you are not hungry, not until you are full.

As Gandhi advised, "Drink your food." (Meaning chew and chew and chew until your food is totally pulverized. Then swallow).

It's ok to eat some fatty/sweet/salty junk food, every now and then, but do it before lunch. Eat a light dinner and nothing else before bed.

Eat as many veggies as you want. Be a vegetable glutton.

Walk everyday. Running is good, too, but walking is even more important.

Can you tell I'm on a health kick right now?
posted by zardoz at 5:41 PM on May 7


Actually, you should spare your teeth and not pulverize your food. Larger chunks are fine; it all gets digested.
posted by planetesimal at 6:22 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Don't eat frozen broccoli.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:44 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Don't do anything alone unless you want to.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:22 PM on May 7


Learn how to time all the turns on your drive home so you can eventually do it blindfolded.
posted by planetesimal at 9:17 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


the good are the enemy of the perfect. exterminate the brutes before it's too late.



I don't say this very often, but I love this thread.


Also, Bob Dylan
posted by philip-random at 10:30 PM on May 7


I was wondering why the link to the Dylan song, and then it hit me. Of course:

Don't put on any airs when you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue.
posted by elf27 at 2:32 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Don't say "you should..." say "I want you to..."
posted by waving at 9:28 AM on May 8


Omit needless words

nd lttrs
posted by Sebmojo at 4:03 PM on May 8


Stop hauling that Kurt Vonnegut quote out all the time.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:21 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


« Older The world's most complex borders. Bonus: a closer...  |  The Three Languages of Arts an... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments