Comparison, according to the Sufi tradition (by way of my friend, Mark Silver, I’m no Sufi, believe me), is of the Devil.
As someone who has long struggled with envy, I get at a deep, deep level how comparing oneself to others can be one’s ruination. What’s been rather more surprising to me is getting smacked upside the head by the evils of comparing myself to…myself.
A little past last year this time, I was freshly back from another trip up to this beautiful part of the country, also to clear my head and get a little distance from the day-to-day-ness of my woes. I came back invigorated and refreshed and full of new plans and new skills.
This year? Not so much.
My first week here was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. I caught up with my friend Chris (and met his wife, Jolie); hung out with my gal, Jean, partner at the place that makes one of my top five pieces of software for the Mac (and at a schmancy ladies’ party in the Pearl, no less); and finally met the aforementioned Mr. Silver (and his lovely wife, Holly, and their lovely boys) in person. I’m now happily ensconced in Bend for the next couple of days, visiting my friend, Sam, and his lovely wife, Linda, for Sam’s Work the System Boot Camp. Two days of systems stuff in one of the most beautiful corners of the world? That alone should be enough to thrill me to my toes.
And I am thrilled, don’t get me wrong. So much beauty! So many lovely wives! Plus tonight, there were meatballs, on a salad!
But because there was a benchmark trip, I keep comparing it to this one. This time last year, I’d had more revelations. My writing was better. I’d made bigger strides, both intellectually and emotionally. It was sunnier.
I thought of that last one today, as I drove onto the sunny, high-desert side of the Cascades, after white-knuckling it for a half-hour at the snowy top of the mountain. It was sunnier and warmer and more inviting everywhere I went last year. Because it was September? Or because it was last September, a whole year and change from this year?
Yes. No. Both. Doesn’t matter. I’m calling bullshit on myself. Pretty easy to tell other people to live in the moment; pretty hard, apparently, to take my own medicine.
On the other hand, there’s no learning like on-the-job learning…