The Measure of All Things.
Why precision doesn’t have to be precise.
What would we be without precision?
Pretty mediocre probably. Precision transforms random movements into ballroom dancing, ignorant quackery into neurosurgery and electronic scrap into functioning computer chips. Even Mother Nature rules by precision, despite giving us humans the impression that she is random and chaotic. Coal is turned into diamonds by putting carbon atoms into rigid geometric order. Migratory birds reach warmer climes in precise V-formations without becoming exhausted before they get there.
So precision really is the measure of all things. Or is it?
Precision is an ever-present aspect of our daily lives. It’s what encourages us to be exacting and to make an effort. On occasions it can be pretty annoying. Imagine how you’d feel after trying really hard to precisely saw a plank of wood but ending up with a piece that’s a few millimetres too short, or arriving at the station platform 20 seconds too late and watching the train disappear down the track. Perhaps this awareness of our imperfection is the reason why we call people who are even more pedantic than ourselves hairsplitters or nit-pickers.
Every time you feel frustrated at your lack of precision, always remember that precision itself isn’t as precise as you might think. Precision is a term that doesn’t just describe exactness or accuracy. According to the dictionary definition it is also “the degree of refinement with which an operation is performed or a measurement stated”– which is pretty unspecific, isn’t it? Perhaps we should take that to mean that we don’t always have to be sticklers for accuracy because precision gives us the freedom to be a bit vague. Precision is the measure of all things but, luckily, we don’t always have to be precise. Which makes life much less stressful.