All About Soul
“How often we get caught up in defining who we are in relation to those around us.”
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening, p.169)
When my friend, Ann, goes out of town, she sometimes asks me to water her garden. Ann is a master gardener; she knows how to plant, where to plant and she loves variety in color and texture. Her terraced rock garden is a masterpiece; she has plants I cannot identify since I don't have the time, money, or expertise to research and purchase exotic plants. I love watering her garden, but then I come home and look at the tangled mess of weeds in my own, and feel like a failure as a gardener. In comparison to Ann, I'm hopeless.
When I visit my cousins in North Carolina, and see their big, beautiful houses, with every gadget known to man, and dishes that match the serving bowls and cups, I compare myself to them and wonder what happened. How did I, the hyper-educated, so-called professional one, end up with so little? Am I just that bad? Am I a failure? This is the kind of head-space we enter into when we compare ourselves to others. We measure one or two aspects of their lives against the same parts of our own, and we come up short. But there will always be someone richer, better looking, more socially connected, more vivacious, and smarter if we look for them, and we will always be lacking in comparison. If our identity depends on “being better than” then we are in for a rough ride.
Life is not a competition, no matter what you've been told. Our culture promotes the notion that more is better because commerce depends upon it—we won't keep buying things if we don't care what's in fashion, or don't feel we must have the newest gadget. This drive for the ever-new creates a restlessness in us that will never be satisfied. Our task here on Planet Earth is to become fully ourselves. Not in comparison to someone else, and not the bigger-better-best variety, but the truest, most authentic self we can be. When we do that, we will not concern ourselves with what others have or don't have, and we will not worry about how we stack-up in comparison. Being who we are, as opposed to being “better than” is the way to claim our own identity and fulfill our life's purpose. It's all about soul, y'all—your soul and mine.
In the Spirit,