“Comparison is the thief of joy”, he said. Teddy Roosevelt, among others. I have found myself repeating that quote in my head lately. Oftentimes, multiple times a day. Several weeks ago, I wrote it on a piece of paper using colored pencils, even added a rainbow, folded it in half, and placed it on a table in the hallway. I see it everytime I walk out of the bedroom. It seems like I needed this reminder more than I cared to admit.
In 2020, people could not wait for 2021, when all of “this” would be over. Yet, here we are in 2021 and “this” is still happening. I’ll be wearing a mask when I leave the house for years to come and have admitted to myself that I am ok with never shaking another person’s hand, at least while living in this country.
Being inside my house more saddled up with being on the internet more. Connected via the cloud or a wire to others, the “new normal” it was said. Not a tangible connection yet one that offered at least glimpses into the lives of others.
With this, I am bearing witness, in this time, to people’s lives that I may not even know. Witnessing their life as they want me to see it, a far stretch from reality or perhaps an embarrassing look straight into said reality.
At moments, I grant this witnessing to have an effect on me. Like an afghan placed around my shoulders, not weighted enough to bring me to my knees but just enough to pose a presence on my shoulders. I have suddenly and without full awareness, let comparison steal my joy. Sweep me away from the smile that is my soul. Elicit a tightening in my chest that all at once has me flustered and irritable and sad.
More recently, however, I have been catching myself at the moment when the afghan appears, my irritability clamoring to escape through its knitting. Pausing, I take a breath. Close the apps. Make a move. Repeat the quote. A noticing is taking place. And for this, I am grateful. I allow myself to drift back to my reality. Where my life is at the moment. Where I am finding my joy.
I feel her daily when the sun shines on my face; the most simplest of joys.
Every day, a new opportunity to find the joy in what I am doing, in how I am choosing to navigate this wild space.
I write all this as a kind plea to allow yourself to close the door on looking into the lives of others at moments during your day. Sit in the space of your own knowing; of your own life. Allow the joy to creep all around and fuel your soul. You are a gift that compares to no one. Prince had it right, “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
To the thief comparison, I would kindly like you to exit as quickly as you appeared. But leave that joy behind. I’m going to need it and yes, I am going to use it.