In her best-selling book, Bossy Pants, Tina Fey, the award winning comedian, writer, actor, and producer looks back on her career beginning with her days doing comedy improvisation with Chicago’s Second City troupe and into the present with her work on 30 Rock and the movie Date Night. In one of the sections about her time as a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live she says:
“You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke until the last possible second, but then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, over- thinking it. You have to go down the chute…You have to let people see what you wrote. It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring on live television.”
Can any of you identify with this? Have any of you been that kid on top of the waterslide? Hey, are you on top of that slide right now?! I know I’ve been there and to this day I still find myself up there. For more times than I’d like to admit it’s my self-centeredness and perfectionism that have kept me there—kept me from allowing myself to let go and whoosh down that slide! What do I mean by that? Let me tell you.
If we think we’re the most important person in the universe (self-centeredness) or if we think we’re the biggest piece of you-know-what in the universe (also self-centeredness) we’re going to always be thinking that all eyes are on us; so in order to maintain that position we better be perfect. When we’re so concerned with our status and how we appear we will dwell (often obsessively) on our appearance, the work that we generate—anything that we create or do—because it’s all about us.
If, however, we do as it says in the Bhagavad Gita, and let go of the fruits of our actions and go about our lives performing our duties as an offering to God and to our fellows, letting go of the results, it becomes a form of prayer, of sacrifice, of sacredness. Instead of focusing on ourselves and how we will be perceived and received, we should go about our daily lives in the spirit of service. When we do that we quit thinking about what’s in it for us and start thinking about how we can be of greater service to God and humanity.
We won’t think so much about what others think of us or whether what we create or do is good enough or lives up to some sort of imagined ideal. If we remember this we won’t ever again be stuck up there on the waterslide over-thinking what it is we are supposed to be doing or questioning our self-worth, the value of what it is we do, and whether it’s perfect or acceptable to others.
Tina Fey is right. Perfect is boring. So, let go, let God, and enjoy the ride!
Categories: Theological Reflections