I have had, and thoroughly enjoyed, two semesters of formal training in Latin. (In addition to a few private lessons from my retired Latin teacher grandma when I was ten.) This is just enough Latin to be dangerous: enough to, say, puzzle out the odd inscription or be confused by the differences between liturgical and classical. Enough Latin to see the bones lying under the skin of our own language.
I am also a perfectionist. A perfectionist of a particularly pernicious persuasion: a procrastinating one. This is often a problem for me, but in the most important sphere of my life, the writing one, I think I’ve made my peace with it. Writing can never be perfect, only as good as we can make it with the vision and skill we have available to us. Someday our vision or skill may be better, but now we have to surrender and give up our offering to the world, imperfect.
Or is it? We are so accustomed to thinking of perfect in its English sense, (OED definition 1a: “Of, marked, or characterized by supreme moral or spiritual excellence or virtue; righteous, holy; immaculate; spiritually pure or blameless”) but I prefer its Latin origins: per, through or throughout; and the past participle of facere, to do or make.
That which is perfect has been gone through; that which is perfect is thoroughly made. That, the shape of the word which I feel through the flesh of use and connotation when I heft it, I celebrate and do not fear. Perfection doesn’t have to be an impossible, theoretical absolute. All of us, perfectionists or not, can aspire to produce something that is rigorously, mindfully conceived and carried through with care: something that is thoroughly made.