July 14, 2018

Less Comparison & More Bear Hugs Please.

Dhani Harrison said his father George rarely gave him advice.

He once told Rolling Stone magazine, “The only two things he felt I had to do in my life were be happy and meditate.”
I quoted this to a friend of mine the other day because she was feeling uninspired and directionless. And then I added, “You’re healthy, your family is healthy, you have have money in the bank. Why don’t you just allow yourself to sit there in Starbucks and chill.”
She knew this. Of course she knew this. But she got caught up in comparison. She felt discouraged by simply “being” while watching all of the busy people “doing.”
They were rushing around, coming and going, typing with intention on their laptops, and seemingly living their lives with some sort of purpose. And I’m sure she looked through Facebook with all of those pictures of perfect, happy people with their perfect, healthy meals and thought, “What in God’s name am I doing with myself?”
And by the way, it’s not her fault to feel that way. It’s not yours either.
Our society is built on comparison. It fuels the machine. Comparison, however, is the killer. Comparison, when you’re trying to live a gentle, spiritual life, is the killer.
Did you let that sink into your cells? Let me say it again: comparison is the killer.
And what are we really comparing ourselves to anyway? Usually, mere illusions.
A few weeks ago, I sent a message to an old friend I saw on Facebook that said, “I’m so happy you and your wife look so happy. And your kids are so cute. Good for you man, you deserve it.” A few hours later he responded with, “Thanks! But do you really think we’re going to post pictures of us fighting?”
It’s all an illusion. Just. A. Very. Convincing. Illusion.
If you must compare yourself to others, skip over the rats in the race.
Look for the people who are simply sitting there; simply sitting there with a slight smile and breathing just to breathe. There’s a good chance these people aren’t always happy, because, as you know, life sometimes has a sick sense of humor. But, they’ve obviously learned to enjoy the times when there’s nothing better to do then just enjoy the time. The clock continues to click regardless.
Have I become immune to comparison? Hardly.
I’ve been so conditioned, like one of Pavlov’s dogs with a bell and meat powder, to check Facebook every 11 seconds that I’ve even reached the pathetic point of scrolling through posts on my phone as soon as my eyes open in the morning. I lay there, needing to pee for like 20 minutes, scrolling through pictures of people’s breakfasts and posts of their political opinions.
But what am I really checking for? I don’t know anymore. But there I am, every day, saying things to the people in my phone like, “Oh, you think you’re too cool to like my pics? Just because you’re on vacation again, you can’t take a sec to read my new piece?”
And I was really set off by something I saw on there earlier. Something which set off a chain reaction of self doubt and judgment so here I sit in Starbucks, strangled by the dread of not-enoughness. Like I’m less than zero. Like I should be selling things, or buying things, or producing things that are sold or bought. But, no. I’ve tried and I can’t. I just don’t have it in me.
All I have are a few words I happen to serendipitously string together into sentences from time to time.
And lately, I’ve been obsessed with writing haikus. Here’s my latest: God resides in the inevitability of you reading this.
Speaking of inevitability, as if all of this has all been scripted, two orthodox Jewish guys, both in their 30s, are sitting next to me right now and they’re talking about fate and free will and destiny and God. And since I have black belt in eavesdropping, I’ve learned one of them is a psychotherapist and the other is gently being counseled by him. They both seem to be deep, caring guys with leagues of respect for each other. Wait, they’re standing up. They’re both smiling and…
Oh my God, they just hugged. Too perfect. Hang on a sec, I’m compelled to say something to them. 
Okay, I’m back.
I said: “You guys are very, very sweet. It’s really been a pleasure sitting next to you two.” I stood up and we introduced ourselves and shook hands. I admitted that I heard what they were talking about and I showed my new haiku to the one who was being counseled. God resides in the inevitability of you reading this.
He read it. And then read it again. And again. He looked up and me, looked at his therapist, and then read my haiku again. It was like someone set their phasers to stun because he became speechless and expressionless. Did I insult his strict Judaism with my zen-styled, haven’t seen the inside of a temple since my bar mitzvah, poem? No. Thankfully, no.
He said, “This is it. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thank you, so much.” He then, amazingly, gave me the biggest bear hug and thanked me one more time. And then I, to add a little lightheartedness to the moment, turned to his therapist and said, “Hey man, I don’t want you to feel left out.” And I proceeded to give him a full-throttled hug. Like he was an old friend I was picking up at the airport. We shared a laugh and then they left.
Facebook shmacebook. I am enough. Exactly as I am.
And so are you.
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