friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, motivation

“How To Be Perfect”

English: Logo of NPR News.
English: Logo of NPR News. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wednesday morning, driving to the gym and listening to NPR.  At that hour of the morning, Garrison Keillor presents ‘The Writer’s Almanac‘ providing interesting factoids about authors that would ensure victory in a game of Trivial Pursuit, if only I would remember them.  He then reads from the ‘Poet’s Corner‘ – and I literally had to pull over to listen to his gentle voice intone excerpts from Ron Padgett‘s poem “How To Be Perfect”.  Given my post yesterday, the juxtaposition was almost eerie and definitely surprising in the best of all possible ways.  I wanted to share it with you, for in keeping with the belief that we could be a bit kinder to ourselves in many areas and more honest with ourselves in others – there is no one who can communicate this like Ron Padgett.

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 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 you anger 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 to.

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

Don’t think 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.


Lots to think about, lots more to smile about.  Please let me know if this struck you as wonderfully as it affected me.  Here’s to a fun-filled, thoughtful Thursday!



32 thoughts on ““How To Be Perfect””

  1. Everyone knows that they are not perfect but they mistakenly perceive themselves to be. But the lines above simply tell us that it is not difficult to be perfect each day…one day at a time!! Simply love it.. 🙂

    1. Exactly – and in its simplicity is the suggestion that we do no harm – to ourselves or anyone else. Does it get more perfect than that? 🙂

  2. Wishing you a perfect day – the kind you always deserve. As for me, I’m taking my kindle to read by the pool, the sun is shining, its reflection off the water mesmerizing. Planning to enjoy a perfect day as well. The only thing that would make it more perfect is you being on the chair alongside me – with kindle or iPad, as well, of course. Happy Thursday to you 🙂

  3. What a wonderful list! Agree with so many others here–the simple, elegant beauty of the statements is refreshing. Wishing you a day of blue skies and butterflies! 🙂

  4. Mmm. Sometimes I think being honest with ourselves and being kinder to ourselves is the same thing. And I love the list. Thank you.”Don’t remain angry for more than a week”, “Don’t forget what made you angry”- the balance of a sane response to anger is so difficult. “Don’t go near the window when there’s shooting in the street”- er, why not?

    1. I think that being honest with one’s self is ultimately kind, but there are issues we should face which can initially be hurtful or disillusioning. Perhaps he is suggesting that anger as a prolonged state of being so fundamentally alters one’s view of all else around you, that it’s better to let it go after awhile? Not going near a window if there’s shooting in the street? Guess he’s from the city and recalls the ridiculous number of people who are killed unintentionally by badly aimed bullets careening through windows? “-)

      1. Mmm. Thought it might be something like that.

        My computer tech support friend says that, however simple the question seems, it is probably better to answer it directly.

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