Raymond Soles was an accountant. He was very good at his job; his co-workers even called him the perfect accountant because Raymond Soles never made a mistake. Raymond was proud to be considered perfect, but unfortunately, he hated his job, because in his heart, Raymond wanted to be a poet. While he was adding his columns of numbers, he was thinking about his poetry ¬– the poems he wanted to write to describe the perfection in his world. The problem was he could never find that perfection, which he saw in his mind.; the perfect tree, the perfect sunset, the perfect building, and the perfect woman. His eyes could only see the defects. Hence, his poems were dry, stilted, and lifeless. His friends would remark on the accuracy of the descriptions, or the right choice of words, but Raymond knew they were just being kind. In fact, he was dissatisfied with his verses.
In the spring of the year, at tax time, a matronly middle-aged woman was hired for a temporary assignment as Raymond’s assistant. She was plain-looking and slightly overweight, a far cry from the perfect woman Raymond would have hoped for.
“I am Eritara. I am here to help you.”
Raymond presented her with a perfect explanation of her duties. When he was finished, she said, “I understand you are a poet. May I read some of your poems?”
Raymond was reticent, but he brought out a folder of his work for her to peruse during her break.
That evening, as the building was closing, Eritara came to his office to return the folder.
“I felt the frustration and disappointment in your work. Will you come with me now? I wish to show you something.”
Raymond reluctantly agreed, and they walked a few blocks to a park where a city landmark, a majestic arbutus tree, grew.
“Do you see this as a tree worthy of your poetry?
“It is a magnificent tree, but it is not perfect. Do you not see how the trunk is split, how the shape is lopsided, and where the bark and leaves are not uniform or missing. There are many defects,” he said.
“I want you to close your eyes and picture this tree in your mind as a perfect tree.”
Raymond thought the whole thing was silly, but being a kind person, he went along with her request.
“Now, open your eyes.”
When he did, Raymond saw the tree as perfect, the way his mind had pictured it.
“How did this happen?”
“I have a power to change things and make them appear the way you want to see them. I am your muse, Raymond, and am here to help you. Now, you can write your poem about the perfect tree.”
In an instant, Eritara was gone.
Raymond sat on the park bench composing his poem, trying desperately to get it right, until there was no longer enough light to continue.
That evening he showed his new poem to his friends. They remarked on how perfect the tree must have appeared to him. One girl observed, “Raymond, it is a perfect poem, but I don’t feel any emotion or sense the beauty of the tree.”
This puzzled Raymond. He thought about her last remark as he walked home. He knew in his heart something was lacking, but he didn’t understand what it was.
Later that evening in his room, there was a knock on the door. It was Eritara.
Raymond showed her his poem and told her of his friends’ reaction, especially that of the girl, which he still didn’t understand.
“I will show you what she meant.”
She began to disrobe and soon stood naked in front of him.
“Close your eyes and picture me as your vision of the perfect woman.”
Raymond did as she requested, and when he opened his eyes, his perfect woman stood before him.
For an hour, he concentrated on constructing his verses. When he finished, the perfect woman was no longer there. He reread his work a number of times, but still felt something was lacking. He rewrote, substituted words, and changed order, but still it was not right.
His sleep that night was interrupted by Eritara’s voice. He turned on the light and looked around the room, but she was not to be seen.
“I am not here in body. I am communicating with your mind. I want you to come with me tomorrow.”
When Raymond awoke the next morning, he was troubled by Eritara’s visit to his mind, but he put it aside as he readied himself for the day. As was his custom, his first stop was at the corner café for breakfast. While he was finishing his coffee, the perfect woman sat down beside him.
“We will spend the day together. You have so much to learn.”
Their first stop was in the park by the giant arbutus tree.
“Today, we are looking for beauty, not perfection. I want you to feel the beauty of this majestic tree. Ignore the form and structure, look for that which makes it unique. See the contrast in colors with this tree and those around it. See how the wind ripples the leaves. Watch the myriads of birds that flock in and out of its branches. But, don’t just describe these points of beauty, tell how they make you feel.”
For an hour, while Eritara waited patiently, Raymond struggled with trying to feel the beauty in the tree. It wasn’t working. His awareness of the imperfections kept creeping in. Finally, he gave up.
“I don’t feel anything,” he told her.
She took him by the hand, and they walked to the center of the city, where the finishing touches were being put on the new City Hall, which had been cited as a prime example of futuristic architecture.
“Many people see this as a beautiful building,” she said.
Raymond looked closely at the structure and began enumerating the flaws he was observing.
“No, look for the beauty, not the imperfections.”
But, Raymond could see no beauty.
Late in the afternoon, the same thing happened when she took him to view an exceptional sunset. The colors were brilliant and merged into a rainbow of pastel shades. To Raymond, the colors were too sharp, and the shading was wrong.
She was quiet as they returned to his room. When they entered, she again took off her clothing. She stood looking at him then walked across the room.
“I want you to compose a poem about me. I want you to focus, not on form, structure, or shape, but I want you to see the dimples that form on my face when I smile; see how my hair flows when I move my head; notice the color changes in my eyes in different light; and see and how my hips sway when I walk.”
Raymond concentrated on observing all this with an increasing feeling of warmth, a sense of desire. The emotion increased as he started to see more points of beauty, which translated into words. Suddenly, they tumbled all over themselves to get on the paper. He couldn’t stop until all the feelings he had for this beautiful woman had been put to verse. When he finished, as expected, she was gone, but her voice echoed in his head.
“We had to find the emotion provoked by the desire for my body, before you could be free to compose what you felt.
This is as far as I can take you. The rest is up to you. There is a long road ahead, but as time passes you will learn to see and feel the beauty in everything our world has to offer.