Whenever we travel to Florida my wife and I like to visit the city of Celebration: the astonishingly preplanned, Disney-built town near the Magic Kingdom. It’s what some might call endearing, or picturesque, or creepy, and all possibly within the same breath.
A brief and obscure history lesson: A long while ago, Walt Disney had the idea for a perfect, self-enclosed city of tomorrow, accessible only by air. The plans were drawn up, but unfortunately Disney died before he could see his city built. Then after his death, along came some new city planners who decided to connect Celebration to the outside world via roads– which in the annals of city planning might end up being the reason for the downfall of this city, if it does fail.
So with that said, as we were walking around the completely HOA controlled city, we noticed that in the downtown area their mini movie theater had closed, and along with that a few shops, and a cute Mexican restaurant; and it seemed so bizarre to me that anything would close down in such an ideal town, until my wife noticed that the streets seemed very empty of people.
And then the reason occurred to me: this is a vacation home city. It’s the perfect location to buy a house, in which you’ll only spend a few weeks or months, and so that’s why the shops would close, because not enough people live there.
You see, it’s very difficult to live in a place with exactly measured lawn heights, and designer controlled house colors. Perfection is a difficult aspiration to hold people to. And I think if given the choice, most people would choose the freedom to be messy. And so as you’re reading this, it would be good to remember that demands for perfection will likely only nudge people away from you. We’re right to demand goodness, and integrity, and kindness, but to demand forced perfection out of those around us is not friendly, and may cause us to lose our neighbors. Sure, they might keep a residence near you, and visit from time to time, but if you want people to live with you, to dwell with you in the honest everyday of human frailty and failure, then you should allow for genuine, transparent imperfection: community.

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