Comparison is the death of joy.
As the days of 2017 are coming to a close, the wisdom of Twain accompanies me. Like an I-phone reminder which continues to ring an alert if not tended to, so too is this quote moving in and out of my consciousness. Now I must tend to it.
It is unwise to negate the tenacity that comparison possesses in our lives, especially given social media platforms that one can consume from one’s armchair in practically an instant. It’s downright easy to view the successes of friends in life and love from the screen, but cognitive dissonance comes into play because “through the screen” is not tangible. While it’s super real for the folks who are experiencing the life moments that they post, it isn’t necessarily real for the viewers insofar as it being visceral, or even reality. There is a disconnect from the pains and joys, the boredom and adventure, the trust and mistrust, the hesitation and elation, the static and change, the passion and numbness of all that is behind that life moment posted. The depth through a screen can never be a deep as the living of the moment.
And so, we know this, yes. And yet… we allow comparison to creep in, even though we can feel it coming, like a dreaded attack of gout. We compare ourselves, our lives/successes/pains/shortcomings/anxieties to the thing on the screen or the thing our pal is going through or the points that others we know are at in life. And because of the disconnect, the comparison always, always leaves us feeling less than good enough. Surely no one else experiences this or that, we convince ourselves. Instead, life is super fly for them.
And slowly comparison fatigue sets in and our joy fades into something akin to jealously laced with greed or listless regret. Which is to say, we watch life happen rather than live it. And that is like the shell of the turtle without the turtle living in it.
I wished to live deep and suck the marrow out of life. The mass of [humans] lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with a song still in them.
Henry David Thoreau