Live the Synonym

Kara Swanson, Brain Injury Blog
Live the Synonym

We throw around the word “perfect” so much that sometimes I think we tend to confuse what is out of reach and what is ideal and “more than enough”

That was the perfect cup of coffee.  That was the perfect meal.  That was the perfect gift.  That outfit is perfect.  I found the perfect shoes…

For me.

That’s it, right there.  For me.  Perfect for me.

That same cup of coffee may not be perfect to the tea drinker, to the person who prefers it black or with two sugars.   They wouldn’t say they just had the perfect cup of coffee.

It’s perfect for me.

We might call a job the “perfect job” if it pays us a handsome salary, if we get comprehensive benefits, if they don’t make us wear horrible uniforms or fussy suits, if they grant a lot of vacation days or offer in-house daycare.

I’ve heard people refer to their job as the “perfect job” and they drive an hour to work and more than an hour home at night in rush hour.  Or they work seventy hours a week.  Or their insurance doesn’t cover optical….

It’s perfect.  The perfect job.

For them.

Do you know that, in more than 135 years of professional baseball, more than 300,000 games, only 23 perfect games have been pitched?

In the 1976 Olympic Games, Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast, stunned the world by scoring a “perfect 10″ in an event.  It was so unusual that the scoreboard could not show it.  It came off as 1.0 and it took a while for the crowd to understand that she had earned perfection.

When it comes to having a brain injury, sometimes we get tangled up in what’s now unreachable, maybe as if we were streaming along on the perfect train before we were injured.   Our lives before?  Perfect.  Not only do we retell our history, we rewrite it.

So I looked up the definition of perfect and they described perfection as “flawless.”


Then I checked out the synonyms for “perfect” and I got these:

That’s more like it.

Quite a few of those seem doable.

Having a brain injury does not automatically require us to forfeit a perfect life.  Not if the synonyms include A-OK, adept, excellent, excelling, ideal, skilled, splendid and superb.

Live the synonym.

You may have what you call the perfect husband.  This gem snores.  He doesn’t always take his plates back to the kitchen.  He’s thinning on the top of his head.  His five o’ clock shadow hurts.  If left to his own devices, he might match teal with olive.

But he’s perfect.  Perfect for you.

Do you know how many of those 23 pitchers in Major League Baseball history pitched more than one perfect game?  None.

Perfection is for moments.  Strange, magical, unique moments.

The rest is living the synonym.  For our own personal version of perfect. 

For me.  Perfect for me.

20/20 vision doesn’t last, except for in hindsight.  Beautiful white pearly shiny teeth need to be filled and cleaned and flossed and fixed and whitened.  Skin sags.  Muscles, too.

The only thing we get our entire lives is life.   It’s not good health.  It’s not romantic love.  It’s not money or comfort or peace of mind or ease.

We get life.

And so, over an entire life, even with brain injury, we are capable of perfect.  Perfect for me.  For you.

We are capable of capturing perfect moments.  Of knowing our idea of perfection.

It’s just all about collecting as many as we can.

If I die having lived the synonyms, I’m going to be a happy and satisfied gal.  If I look back and realize that my brain injury was ONE OF MANY curves in life’s road, it will settle with perspective. 

Only we can keep ourselves from living the perfect life, for us.  It’s not brain injury.  Brain injury has only the power we give it.

Pitchers will throw a million strikes and a million balls.  Gymnasts, for every “perfect 10″, will fall off the balance beam a thousand times.

Life cannot be perfect.  It CAN, however, be perfect for you. 

Live the synonyms.  Aim for the synonyms.  Celebrate and gather them.  Pile them up on your side.  

This is YOUR life.  Nobody else will consider it perfect, brain injury or not. 

Only you can.

And you can. 

From Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog. Used with permission.

Posted on BrainLine August 15, 2013.