Friday, June 27, 2008

Pride and Perfection

Synd: What ails you, Pycha?

Pycha: Imperfection, Synd. That which ails you all the same.

Synd: Then it shall be so that you will suffer for all eternity, for the life of a perfectionist is but eternal suffering, is it not?

Pycha: Not so. An story for you, Synd; perhaps you catch me better. A novice and a master at archery face the bull's eye. The novice goes first. He aims to his best effort, and shoots the 7 ring. He aims for a second shot, concentrates and shoots again, hitting the 8th ring this time. It was good progress for a novice, he thought, and smiled. While he put his bow down and passed the arrows to his master, he wondered to himself: How long will I take before I become as good as the master? And he thought of the effort he would need to put in to continue.

He looks on at the master eagerly - he had heard of the master shooting the bullseye, then shooting the second arrow through the first. Perhaps he would see it today for himself, he thought. The master himself is aware of this, and aims his bow. It wasn't the first time, it wasn't the last time. It was just another time, and he would pull it off like the past times and the future times.

Synd: How did the master do, then?

Pycha: Bullseye, Synd. Maybe if you could land one of them you wouldn't always mull around like this. So the master took his second arrow, and aimed. The second shot was, obviously, tenfold in difficulty. Yet the master knew it was possible. He was the master and had to prove it. And when he fired, the arrow sped through the air and hit the target. Yet while the novice ran over to the target for closer inspection, the master realized that he had failed. The sound that he had heard was not that of an arrow piercing through another - it was one of an arrow that grazed against another and landed just next to it, with a few splinters on the floor from the two rubbing against each other.

No doubt the novice was impressed; two arrows side by side is a feat with an intense accuracy he could never hope to attain in the near future. Yet he heard the master shout from far away - "Get away from the target!" he had heard. A mere two seconds after he stepped back did a third arrow fly through, piercing the first arrow in the very center of the target. The novice, amazed at being able to witness the master's skill from such a close distance, ran over to the master to express his awe. What he saw instead was the master's clenched fist against the wall, his face in evident anger and disappointment.

Synd: For what did he feel anger for? For whom did he clench his fist against?

Pycha: For himself, of course. For his sin; for his failures. After all, Synd, to miss the arrow, no matter how close, is a sin in itself. No archer can possibly stand if they fail the test of accuracy.

Synd: Yet isn't it so that any man who fails will stand and train until he is at that level again? A man who leaves his sword behind only to pick it up again must train before he reaches his original ability, is it not so?

Pycha: Precisely. Do you think the master would have been as angry had he grazed the third arrow as well? He would've laughed, Synd. Laughed and commented to his novice that more training is in order for him. Yet the extra shot just proved it - he could do it and he didn't. That is his falling and his sin, Synd.

Synd: A sin to whom? He is still clearly master over the novice. The difference in skill is there. He has failed his disciple in no way, has he?

Pycha: Do you judge your sin with your subordinates as a benchmark? Is that to say that the best are the sinless? What fallacies! The best are just as sinful as we are, Synd. They are merely sins that are easier to commit. Who, then, you ask, is the sinner's sin towards? It's towards themselves, Synd. They have failed no one as you have said, yet they have failed themselves. And that, Synd, is sin to their pride.

Synd: A necessary sin? It seems to me that their pride is their sin more than their failure to stand up to their pride, Pycha. Surely it is possible for a lord to be a humble man.

Pycha: You may cry against this, Synd. A cry of selfishness on part of the master. If the master has fallen short, what of the novice who hasn't even reached the peak? If the master isn't perfect, then who can the novice idealize and have as a role model? If the world were to be so flawed that the concept of perfection not exist, must a man harp on his lack of capability to reach such heights? The lords must accept their pitfalls, they say. For the sake of those who aim to be like them. Yet I ask you, Synd. Does its pervasive presence in life make it acceptable? If a man were to accept his pitfalls, what of the danger that comes upon those who learn from him? Where will the improvement towards the impossible be then?

It is a necessary pride, Synd. A necessary pride and a necessary sin to bring about the necessary change. And though I remain unsatisfied with myself for my imperfection, it is not the sympathy of others that I seek. It is pride in myself that I seek.

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