Squashing Comparison

Squashing Comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Comparison nips my heels the hardest when I’m reading a great book or essay.

I want to put away my paper and pen – permanently.

I want to shred my notebooks and format my hard drive.

I want to swear off reading, writing, and creativity …

… because I get this choking terror that I will NEVER be good enough to write a story as powerful as So And So,

I need to get to the place were I find good writing invigorating instead of defeating.

Because there’s a story singing between every published spine and waiting on every blank page – and it doesn’t matter how the ink arrives there, so long as it arrives.

 

It’s kinda of like this ….

Last year, I flew out to Los Angeles to hang out with my girlfriend Mary.

She met me at LAX and we had to catch a bus back to the parking lot.

Since LAX is huge and busy, and we weren’t familiar with the process, we asked porters and travelers alike for directions. Everyone directed us to get on the bus under the blue neon light.

Seemed simple. There was a blue neon light. There was a bus. We got on it. And after 20 minutes, we found ourselves back where we’d started.

So, we got out and started over. We asked for directions. We followed those directions. The bus. The blue light. And this time, we ended up at a train station.

Thankfully, in spite of being tired and hungry, we were able to laugh about our impossible luck all the way back to the airport.

On our third attempt to get directions, we were again directed to … you got it … the bus under the blue light.

But this time, this time some Sweet Soul added these magic words: “It’s the E Bus.”

And as though summoned from some dark recess in the underworld by the mention of its name, The E Bus materialized moments later.

 

This next bit is the point of the story …

The bus we needed, the bus we wanted, the bus that would sweep us out of the bowels of LAX and into the warm embrace of the parking lot and sweet freedom, was NOT found under a blue neon light.

LAX, for all its world renown, has a wicked sense of humor.

Our bus was identifiable by the sketchiest means possible.

A plain piece of paper with the letter E scratched on it in dry ballpoint pen was scotch taped in the corner of the bus window.

Plain paper. Ballpoint pen. Scotch tape.

We laughed from the moment we got onto that bus and long after we got off it.

In the end, it didn’t matter how we arrived at the parking lot, only that we did (arrive).

That’s how it is with COMPARISON in our reading and writing.

Sometimes we’re intimidated by a great book because we’re afraid our storytelling and grammar will never be that breathtakingly perfect.

But you know what – that’s okay.

Not every story is going to be an elegant limo ride to the frequent flier counter.

Not every story is going to be a speed demon taxi ride to the unloading zone.

Not every story is the Blue Neon Express or the Friendly Neighborhood Transport.

Truth is, sometimes the very best stories are run-of-the-mill buses with improbably identities, the buses that took us places we didn’t expect to go, places we didn’t even know we’d want to go, places we remember long after we're safely back home.