Comparison Kills the Spirit
I’ve noticed that if I give myself permission to do something in the way that feels best to me I relish it – whether it’s a project or parenting or sweeping the floor. I have fun, I dance with the broom, I’m sparkly-eyed and richly productive. I’m deeply engaged in what I’m doing, I’m doing it well and I don’t care how others think it should be done.
If I compare myself to others I lose my center and then whatever I’m trying to do sort of wobbles and flops over in a limp, stagnating lump of ‘almost there’ and ‘at least I tried’.
Comparison kills the spirit of a thing.
I recently had the great honour of being guided by a wonderful artist through the piece of art – traditionally called a house – that he is currently creating. As he steered us through his creation – the walls of which, I swear, are living and breathing – he explained with great relish what each nook and cranny were for, unveiled each thought behind the unusual designs and it was like being in another world – which it was I suppose, visiting the world of his mind. And what a mind! Wow, truly, WOW. Like a treasure chest.
He has been painstakingly crafting this house for the past five years.
It’s nowhere near done.
When I heard that, my socialised mind immediately led primly-dressed thoughts down the socially correct route, “Gosh that’s a long time. What’s the point? When will he get it done?”
Then I watched the man speaking. He was describing in detail the incredible amount of complicated calculation and exacting effort it required to build a particular curved dome in the ceiling brick by brick. It sounded horrible! Not to him though. His face was animated, his eyes were aglow, his mouth was in a permanent smile, his arms were flying around in description … he was practically salivating at the delightful memory of the difficulty of it all. Then, as though to confirm my suspicions, he sighed happily and said, “It was so much fun.”
And there we have it. The Point.
Yes, enjoyment. Being IN the moment, being present to a process you want to be in and letting yourself love it. What is the point of finishing faster if he is enjoying the process so much? I mean, what will he do afterwards anyway? He’ll find a new project to have fun with so why not just fully enjoy this one now? It will take as long as it takes and it doesn’t matter because he is having fun the whole time. And learning and growing.
I’ve been part of a project that has been ripening for a long time now. It ripens and ripens and each time I think I am ready to take off with it I realise I’m not yet. Which makes me feel a bit of a woes sometimes. According to social convention, I ‘should’ have gotten on with it a long time ago. I compare myself to others who just go for it and it makes me feel bad about myself. I’ve tried pushing, cheerleading, prodding, manipulating and shaming myself into doing it but I just freeze up because none of those are actually about me.
Each time I remember (again and again and again) that the only reason in the world for my doing this at all is to have FUN – for ME to have fun – then it comes alive again, because I love it, I truly do. I get all excited and energised and inspired by it. Each time I resolve a freeze I learn more about myself and the project unfolds and shows itself to me in new ways. It becomes richer and more integrated and more meaningful at every turn. So where am I hurrying to?
Urgency is my illusion and it’s only there if I look outside of myself to judge how I’m doing. It’s not helpful. It kills the spirit of the thing. It squashes my fun. When I am ready, it will take off – of that I have no doubt. But I will only be ready when I stop comparing myself to others and focus instead ONLY on my own journey – which seems to involve occasional pauses to restrain my inner bully and to inhale and exhale my way through the fears.
So I have decided to commit to having fun on my journey. What other point is there really? How satisfying will any achievement be if I don’t have fun along the way? There is no rush, as long as I’m having a good time.
How about you?