2 sapphire gin bottles of different sizes sit on a windowsill next to a Bourbon bottle

On Beginnings & Perfection

by Margaret Ryland

What we don’t see are messy beginnings. The jumble of words as the playwright agonizes over the plot. The first hesitant stroke of paint on the canvas. The hundreds of lines she threw out before hitting on that perfect, “first” one.

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

“In the beginning was the word.”

“Call me Ishmael.”

We see lists of first lines like the ones above and recoil from taking action, because our beginning will pale in comparison.

Beginnings are of great importance, so we are told.

Perfection is everything: our God, our lodestar.

This makes “beginnings” problematic, because rarely are they perfect. Yet, we must do them to achieve whatever it is that we desire.

The problem stems from fear.

That what we create will lack the perfection it has in our mind.

It stems from our horror when that first step doesn’t give us the perfect results we imagine.

We are surrounded with examples of results. The beautiful outcome. The finished play. The painting that hangs on our living room wall. The perfectly-crafted first line of a masterpiece.

What we don’t see are messy beginnings. The jumble of words as the playwright agonizes over the plot. The first hesitant stroke of paint on the canvas. The hundreds of lines she threw out before hitting on that perfect, “first” one:

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”