From the time we toddle forth in our best jumper to begin interaction with our fellow human beings, the context is competition. Whether it’s a maths competition in the classroom or a cricket (somewhat like baseball only more exciting) competition on the pitch, we’re raised from babyhood to ‘one up’ the other bloke.
Adult life isn’t much better. Everyone fighting, scratching and clawing to make the most money, buy the fastest car, snag the hottest girlfriend, go on the most what-happens-in-Thailand-stays-in-Thailand holidays.
STOP! WAIT! THINK! Why are we competing!?!
Life, real life, isn’t about all that. It’s about existence. Your existence. There is absolutely no context for comparison or competition when you really think about it. We’re all working, eating, experiencing, loving, making love, suffering, crying, laughing, rejoicing. Where’s does competition enter the picture? What is this, reception/kindergarten?
No, this is adult life. Some of us will be rich, then felled by ill fortune. Some of us will be poor and raised by dint of hard work or good luck.
Some will be middle-class and have long, trouble-free lives. Some will have great wealth and suffer for decades from ill health.
Some will barely be squeaking by and still be generous. Some will be tremendously wealthy and horde their money, being stingy even with themselves. Some will have many possessions they can’t afford and some will choose not to have any possessions though they could easily afford them.
It’s like the old Scottish song goes:
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be with you all
Some will rise and some will not. So where have we all gotten the idea that life is a competition? Is it not merely an experience?
Your life is your story and you only get one shot. So why do you and I send sidelong glances at the other guy, comparing our life to to his? Why do we, Ladies, sneak peaks at the other bird’s diamond, mentally judging her carat weight against ours.
I’m guilty of it meself. Since childhood, comparison and competition have been my life blood. Then Rhys got sick. Really, really sick and that put life into perspective for me.
Sure, I feel a twang when yet another future-step-daughter-in-law shows up to flaunt her 15 carat diamond engagement ring. I don’t have a diamond engagement ring, never particularly wanted a diamond and Rhys, poor man, couldn’t afford one anyways.
But what price glory? I know what my future DILs had to do to get my step-sons to finally propose and that my step-sons, bless their hearts, are themselves very rough diamonds. Marriage won’t be easy for them.
What matters is not diamonds but a good marriage – faithful, happy and peaceful. You can get just as married with a 45€ ring as a 4500€ ring that you’ll still be paying off after the divorce on the grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’. Financial, of course.
When you really think about it and strip life down to bare bones, competition and life are chalk-and-cheese. Life is about living. Experiences! Memories!
Where in that definition does ‘competition’ come into play? It doesn’t.