Don’t you agree that it is human nature to compare? My hair—her hair. Their truck—our truck. Your kids—my neighbor’s kids. Oh, I have always said that if I had had kids they would of course have been the best kids-ever. Like I am sure your kids are! But since the world was not graced with my kids I have come to compare all kids by the ‘your kids-my neighbors kids’ thought process. Going forward…
Comparing makes for good contests in life. It all starts with that age old school yard proclamation, “Oh yea, well my dad can beat up your dad.” I have yet to see two dads who have been touted as being the best pugilist, go a round or two just for the sake of their kid’s honor. Thankfully. But, and isn’t there nearly always a but here, but as far as comparing goes no matter how good, better or best you think your anything is, there is someone with a bigger, better or best-est thing. Just waiting in the wings to dangle their better equipped do-hickey in front of you.
So here is what you do to even out the playing field of life. Apple and orange them. Yes apple and orange them. They say their dog is a better hunter, you say your dog can eat a ground squirrel in one gulp. Ah, now without even breaking a sweat you have not only said what kind of hunter you dog is, but that he is a hunter and can get a ground squirrel, a feat that does not lose any luster to your friend’s proclamation of his dogs’ hunting ability. After all most of us know that catching a running-hole in the ground hiding-ground squirrel is quite a coo. Not only that, but if push came to shove your dog could probably out eat this other hunting dog. So even though both dogs are held in the highest by both owners, their traits are apples and oranges.
Here is another apple and orange comparison. A friend scoots up in a brand new truck. This is a real nice truck. It has, as my dad would say, “hot and cold running everything.” Now you should know that I am very excited when someone buys a new vehicle. It is a big deal, especially now that a new car or truck will probably cost as much as my house did back in the 80’s.
Any way, you want to be happy about this new car purchase, but that comparison, human nature of life contests is up and running at full throttle. So to feed that green eyed monster you walk all the way around the new truck. Maybe give out a low whistle and even sit the driver’s seat and run your fingers lazily across the dash. Push a button, turn a knob. Remark about the new car smell and smile.
Then with a kind of sideway glance say, “Wow, this is the bomb. I remember when I bought my new truck a few years ago. Man it was the best day ever right—up until the day I paid the thing off last month.” Or something along those lines.
This is a real apples and oranges moment. You have given kudos to the new car owner. Even let them feel a nice pat on the back about their purchase, but then you zing with the fact that you have also had a new truck. (Apples) But the best thing about your truck is that it your baby is paid off! (Oranges) It will hang in the air that his “paid off” day will be sometime in the future. Maybe even 5 or 6 years down the road. Ugh!
Now I do not say this to be facetious or to garner ill will towards another person’s happy moments, I just know that comparing and the one up-man-ship mode is alive and well in all of us.
But wait, what if it wasn’t like that? What if we truly were just happy that our friend had a dog that was a great hunter without having to one-up-man-ship that poor dog? What if we didn’t go into our houses at night and grumble to ourselves or our spouse that ole so and so has a bigger, better, shinier do hickey than we have ourselves?
Ya, I don’t think that will ever happen either. But I’m working on it. Sure makes you wonder though doesn’t it? Human is as human does.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org