How To Be Perfect

If I could just escape to some quiet, lonely place where I could think undisturbed, I bet I could come up with great ways to live a perfect life, as Ron Padgett does in his poem How To Be Perfect.

Excerpts from How To Be Perfect

Get some sleep.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room
before you save the world. Then save the world.

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don’t stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don’t
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm’s length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass
ball collection.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if
you have paid them, even if they do favors you don’t want.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Don’t expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want

Don’t be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don’t think that progress exists. It doesn’t.

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

Forgive your country every once in a while. If that is not
possible, go to another one.

If you feel tired, rest.

Don’t be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel
even older. Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately. If you bang
your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20
minutes. you will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Be good.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot. It’s a waste of time.

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

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there’s shooting in the street, don’t go near the window.

*  *  *  *  *

Well, Ron certainly covers a lot of ground. I really can’t think of anything I would add to help you be perfect . . . Oh, wait a minute! Check your urine every day to make sure you’re perfectly hydrated.

One thought on “How To Be Perfect

  1. Steve says:

    I was just being a smart-ass when I added that bit about checking your urine.

    I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use that Boy Scout urine chart I found months ago. Just like I was looking for some way to use one of the incredible fantasy illustrations from Swedish artist Helena Blomqvist (click on the illustration to see more of Helena’s work).

    The urine/hydration thing was really off-point from what Ron Padgett’s poem is all about … taking stock of our lives, living true to our values, using common sense.

    Yes, you have an internal compass to the correct path through life. Listen to that internal voice … it tells you how to be perfect. Easier said than done in today’s world.

    You notice Ron makes no mention of going online or using apps to deal with life. Something’s lost when we live vicariously online, staring passively at the computer or smart-phone screen.

    Listening more to an electronic device than that still, soft voice.

    But today I was perusing the latest edition of the AARP magazine (June/July 2012) when I saw an article that stopped me cold.

    Seems like I inadvertently added some good advice about checking your urine …

    Drink Up!

    by Holly St. Lifer

    Feeling out of sorts but not sure why? You might be dehydrated.

    Two new studies found even mild dehyration comes with big consequences: altered mood, impaired memory, trouble concentrating, fatigue, headaches, anxiety.

    While the reasons for these symptoms are unclear, researchers at the University of Connecticut Human Performance Laboratory noted that dehydration causes changes in electrolyte balances in the blood as well as serotonin levels in the brain, which can affect memory and mood.

    How to tell if you’re hydrated? [Here it come, folks!] Check the color of your urine. “Anything darker than a pale, straw hue means you need to drink more,” says study author Lawrence Armstrong, Ph.D.

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