-Part 2 of 2-
Why? Why do I try to undo the achievement of another? Why am I flustered by a peer’s accomplishment when my own is twenty years later but, like I said, never “too late”? Why does her win have to be my loss? Why is it I think the easier, softer way is to criticize the accomplishments of others rather than recognize and admit my own weaknesses? And why, when I see these disturbing patterns in my life, do I want to avoid the truth and ignore the obvious?
Why? Partly because it’s easier and softer, partly because I’m lazy but mostly because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that my best won’t be good enough. That I won’t measure up.
Last week was this conversation. A friend shared with me her recently written speech (while I share with her my recently written writing) where she encouraged her audience to be the best.
I wasn’t impressed.
“Why not?” she asked. “Shouldn’t people be challenged?”
“Not to be the best” I said. “No one will ever be the best for anything longer than a few fleeting moments and making those minutes of achievement one’s life’s aim is to belittle the honest efforts of everyone else.” Why should accomplishment be reserved for the few when all of us, everyone (my lazy self included) can pursue a higher standard, not to be the best but to be “our best. That’s my standard” I said “to be the best I can be.”
“Consider your daughter playing soccer. Should she be rewarded only for goals when her gift is to assist? Some Saturdays are ice cream celebrations while others, all because of break away goals or personal injury, are pageants of ignominy?” I think praise should be based less on achievement and more on effort, not because the Wright brothers’ achievement wasn’t great but because the efforts of their predecessors weren’t wrong. Maybe the predecessor’s failures constituted future success. I know it did for the first controlled human powered flight. The success of a light and easily duplicated design was the result of the frustrations of the forefathers. Without one, there was not the other. So too Miss Belize; I didn’t know I could do better until I heard her do best, few moments of fleeting fame as hers were.
And now? Twenty years after my English composition classmate wrote her unforgettable piece? What good could possibly come from my harboring such jealousy? Besides my admission, my writing, my uncomfortable yet necessary-for-growth confession? How about…
better than what has come from me before, that “better” being my personal best.