The Perfect Bust

Life is imperfect. In every way, shape, and form, there is nothing ideal about what we do every day.

We make mistakes, we err, we’re judged by our flaws, and we overcome adversity that serves to remind us that we are only human. In the end, we reach an equally imperfect outcome and, ironically, are remembered in death for all the good we’ve done. We celebrate life only once its ended. While we’re breathing, however, we disregard such achievement, striving instead to find perfection.

Perfection. It is something that does not exist. Knowing full well we’ll never find it, we search for it anyway. All the while we remain blissfully ignorant to what it really is that we’re searching for.

Perfection is impossible. We demand the impossible from one another. We look for the impossible in our spare time. We do everything we can to become the best versions of ourselves, never thinking for a minute that the best versions of ourselves might not be that hard to attain. We’re never satisfied. We’re rarely pacified. We can’t accept failure. We reject disappointment. We are, in a word, foolish.

I bring all this up because of one man. One walking disappointment. The definition of the imperfect life, wrapped up in a bow of twisted perfection. In a utopian world, on this particular day, he is our pariah. He is a football player. He is a millionaire. His only similarity to the rest of us is his mortality. We know nothing about Aaron Curry except this: he is the perfect bust.

The term itself is abstract. Bust. What does that even mean? The closest literal definition alludes to bankruptcy, which in itself implies certain inadequacy. But even that doesn’t do the word justice.

Bust crosses the threshold of one’s lips with all the villainous texture of an evil grimace. Bust evokes emotion, raises the blood pressure, inspires humiliating laughter, elicits jokes at another’s expense. Bust is bad. Bust is wrong. Bust is a four-letter word for failure.

We hate failures. Never mind the fact that we’ve all been failures at one time or another. We hate them. Even if we embody them. Even if we are them. We acknowledge failures to distract others from failures of our own. If he’s failing, you see, then I am not.

It’s hypocritical. We probably shouldn’t do it. We strive not to be hypocrites. It’s part of that futile quest for perfection. Don’t do it, they say, because if you do, well, we’ll judge you.

Alas, in this world of imperfection, we find ourselves in a bit of a quandary. To judge the perfect bust or not? We have all failed, as has he. In spite of his money, his talent, his ability, his relative fame, he has fallen just as we have. A stronger man would withhold judgment. The perfect bust would tell you, in fact, that only God can judge him. We are mortal. We’re not capable of such assessment. But keep in mind, we are subsequently not perfect. And part of the imperfection of life, as it turns out, is being ever imperfect in our own right.

Against our better morals, we evaluate this man. In the process, he becomes the poster boy for two very contradictory facets of humanity: a) our quest for perfection, and b) our inability to ever achieve that by doing things like this.

Aaron Curry probably isn’t a bad person. What he is, though, is complicated. We don’t understand him. We don’t understand how so many people’s expectations of him could be so far off. As a result of our lack of understanding, we get upset with him.

We need knowledge to feel comfortable. Who on earth has knowledge about how badly Curry failed as a Seattle Seahawk? How did this happen? Why did this happen? This was the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. A man paid millions of dollars to maximize his talent and ability for our football team. He should not have failed. Every indication says he would not fail. And yet he did. Miserably. Epically. We lack fundamental knowledge about this failure. We’re uncomfortable as a result. Discomfort leads us to a strong feeling of disdain. And an emotion that powerful leads us to judge. So we judge.

He had it all. Almost. He had the talent. He had the physical capability. What he lacked was the drive. He didn’t care to give his all for the cause. He had no desire to relinquish his happiness in that quest for perfection. He cared more about his family. He cared more about the Lord. He cared more about things other than football.

You see, in a perfect world the perfect bust would not even be playing football. He would be a father and a husband, perhaps a man of God, perhaps a scholar. He wouldn’t be a linebacker, that’s for sure. He wouldn’t be in pads and a helmet. He wouldn’t be running after quarterbacks.

In a perfect world, Aaron Curry wouldn’t be the perfect bust because he would have realized long ago that when your heart isn’t in something, you cease to pursue it. But in this imperfect world we live in, our quest for the paragon leads us to a means, which in turn carries us to the end. The means is a job, the end is our passing. We do these things we have to do — and not necessarily those we want to do — in order to deem ourselves successful. The more successful we are, the more likely we are to be perfect.

Perfection is our goal. Our goal is unrealistic. Aaron Curry exemplifies that. He’s doing what we all do. He’s putting himself through hell in an attempt to get to heaven. Even this man — with his entitled opportunity, his ability, his foundation, who doesn’t yet realize that he doesn’t care about football — even this man is perfectly imperfect.

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama once said this:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Aaron Curry made half the sacrifice, but has never been willing to fully devote himself to his career as an athlete, to his money-making endeavor. Very likely, his well-being remains more intact than that of the rest of us as a result. Money does not buy happiness. Success does not breed happiness. Happiness is a by-product of what we love. And I’m quite certain that Aaron Curry loves many other things more than he does football.

In society’s eyes, Curry is the ideal screw-up, the antithesis of a winner. He hasn’t bled for the system. He hasn’t forsaken happiness for a career. Aren’t we supposed to do that? Isn’t that what we were put on earth to do? If we have to do it, why shouldn’t he? Why shouldn’t that man be like the rest of us? Frankly, we don’t know if he has it wrong or right.

But damn it, wouldn’t it be weird if Aaron Curry, of all people, was on to something? Failing to give your all at a task you don’t give a shit about, in spite of the fact that it may bring you all the fame and money you could possibly desire, simply so you can live your life better. It makes no effing sense. And yet it makes all the sense in the world.

I’ve never liked Aaron Curry. But his shortcomings may be exactly what we need to absolve ourselves of a quest for the unattainable. And in the end, put our imperfect lives in perfect perspective.

3 thoughts on “The Perfect Bust”

  1. Well said, Alex. When sports and real life intersect it leaves a real gray area. Curry may be a football bust but he certainly is not a bust in life. Good luck to him.

  2. This is by far one of your best articles you have ever published Alex. Great Job. You have an incredible talent.

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