Am I As Good As I Used To Be?
Comparison is the death of joy. Mark Twain.
History always wants to compare. This is also true of sports and personal legacy. Why?I ran across the Mark Twain quote by sports writer Daniel Brown while getting annoyed reading about the Golden State Warriors legacy after winning the NBA basketball championship again June 8th. That is what caused this blog.
The Warriors are well known for their joy. They are a team with a caring culture of comradery, having fun together. That is what I like about them; it became myjoy. All of the current comparisons about which team is the best team of all time, which player is the best player of all time, who is better than whom?, etc. doesn’t make sense. These comparisons are killing this joy. Why is it so important to rank, rate, compare what is happening now compared to what happened years ago? As with most comparisons in history, sports and personal legacy, this is like comparing apples and oranges. Today is like apples, 20 years ago is like oranges. Why can’t we just enjoy?
This experience with the concept of comparison has caused me to think about my tendency to compare my current life with my past life. I often think about my life today by comparing it to what I can no longer do. I can no longer go backpacking, play tennis, climb up ladders, dig in the garden, etc. This comparing could be killing my joy.
In 2011 I wrote a series of essays: “Composing My Further Life.” I borrowed the title from Mary Catherine Bateson’s 2010 book with the same title. And I asked myself her initial question: Am I still the person I spent a lifetime becoming? And do I still want to be that person?
Now, instead of comparing me now, to what I used to be, I am thinking more about what I want my present life to be, rather than comparing it to my past or future life. I don’t want to kill my current joy. This doesn’t mean I don’t think about my past and future; I choose my thoughts carefully. I remember and imagine the positives and negatives; comparing isn’t necessary. I am the one who creates my joy and pleasures, regardless of how it compares to my past joys or other’s joy. The current experience of reading about the Warriors’ joy and Mark Twain’s quote, has caused me some enlightenment.
Am I as good today as I used to be? I admit I asked myself this question when writing my Composing My Further Life essays. There I was comparing again, spoiling my joy. Thank you Mark Twain and Warriors. Apparently my sport’s addiction has been beneficial. The quote and the sports world comparing the Warriors’ victory and players with others was a valuable lesson. This has caused me to realize that comparison wasn’t beneficial. Comparing what I can’t do now, to what I can do now, is a way of killing my joy of what I am doing.
Now I will try to remember my past with pleasure and enjoy the memories, and have joy in my present — without comparison. Wish me luck.
Be yourself; everyone else is taken. Oscar Wilde