A friend this weekend quoted a great, well, quote. She said, "Comparison breeds discontentment." Actually, now that I have typed that I'm not sure that's a direct quote (how many times can I say the word "quote" in one paragraph) but you get the idea. And I believe that is true. It is easy to be satisfied with what we have or who we are until we start gazing over at the neighbor's house or comparing our children with others or even feeling insecure about ourselves.
However, there are times when comparison and then the discontentment that follows can have a positive effect. Athletics is a good example of this. Actually, any kind of competitive endeavor is an example of this. There have been many times when I have played a video game or a game on Facebook and thought I was pretty good until I watched someone else or saw someone else's score. Knowing that a higher level was attainable motivated me to try harder (and play incessantly) until achieving the higher score. Seeing a 72 year old man compete in the triathlon this weekend motivates me to keep on exercising and stay in shape and not use getting older as an excuse.
However, no matter how much I compare myself and no matter how discontented I get, there are some things in life that I will never be good at. Some of these "things" are unattainable because I am simply unwilling to devote the time it would take to become proficient in them - i.e. fixing a car (actually, even changing a tire), playing the violin (or any other musical instrument for that matter), mowing the lawn (I tried once, it wasn't pretty.) But some of these "things" are unattainable because I am just not made to be able to do them. For example, those picture puzzles where the squares are scrambled and there is always one empty square space so you can move the pieces around to assemble the picture - I am terrible at those! But luckily life doesn't routinely put me in a position where I have to assemble those pictures in order to be successful. However, there are some areas that I wish that I was just awesome in that I quite frankly will never even be mediocre at. They are as follows:
Medical emergencies - oh, I'm trained, all right. 30 and 2 for CPR, 5 back blows and 5 stomach thrusts for the heimlich. But when a medical emergency is unfolding before my eyes, I break into a sweat, my eyes fill up with tears and my first instinct is to pray - not just for the victim but for someone else who is competent to take charge. I wish I could be the type of person to take over and apply the appropriate treatment, but it just isn't going to happen unless I am the last resort.
Singing - I wish I could sing. I mean REALLY sing. Not just sing somewhat on key in church. My voice is more in the alto range but I don't know how to sing parts. So my poor little old low voice tries its very hardest to reach those high notes on How Great Thou Art but we can only hope that only the hard of hearing are near when it happens. Now I'm not asking for American Idol type talent, but I would like to at least be good enough to sing in the choir and maybe even a solo in church.
Interior Decorating - I wish I had a knack for it. I'm really good at going into other people's houses and knowing what I like and don't like, but when it comes to my own house, I'm at a loss. I need someone to come in and give me three different ideas and then let me pick which I like best. I think I would be good at the execution of the ideas (i.e. painting, finding the "items" that would look good in the house) I just need someone to lay it all out for me...for free.
Landscaping - this is very similar to the interior design, but it's the exterior design. Again, I am so willing to buy the items and do the manual labor, it's just knowing what to get and where to put it. Of course if I would just water the flowers I did plant...
Play the drums - now maybe if I did devote the time I could learn how to do this, but let's just face it, it's pretty unrealistic for a 33 year old to take up the drums. So I'm planting the seed in Anna's head and maybe we can learn together.
So before I get too down about what I CAN'T do, I need to go do something I am good at. Actually Anna is calling me right now to help her pass a section of Chicken Little on the playstation...now that's something I can play!