Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Better or Bitter Battle

      Eric was playing The Memory Card game with his Mom, niece and nephew.  Eric is an old pro at this, from what I understand, but when he matched two cards, I watched him pick them up, show them to his niece and say, "In your face!"  Although this was all in fun, and trust me, she gave it right back to him, I told Eric that maybe it's best not to "in your face" a seven year old.  Of course, this was a lot of talk from me...I wasn't even playing.

     I 've always had a problem with competition.  If I think about it, as children my brother and I were constantly pitted against each other. If one of us did something better or more desirable than the other one, we heard about it. You had to strive to be nothing less than number 1, or perfect, in my house. This is probably why I can't handle competition generally.  I go into "kill" mode too easily, get super bitter if I don't win, and extremely arrogant if I do.   

     My friend's band recently had their new CD release party,  I've been going to their shows for a year now, and honestly, they are truly awesome talents.  One of the guys in the band I've known around the music scene for nearly twenty years. His previous band got signed, played on huge festivals and tours, and did a lot of cool things that most people really don't get too.  StoneKracker, my band, did a lot of cool things too, but not as many as this guy's band did.  While I am more than okay with that now, and feel so blessed for what we did do, I can assure you that wasn't always the case.

     The music scene here while StoneKracker had it's run was extremely competitive.  People fought over gigs, slots on those gigs, and generally tried to cut other bands down with gossip, etc.  Eric and I tried to stay out of it as much as possible, but still found ourselves immersed in it from time to time.  It's really hard to better yourself or your craft in that kind of environment.  I can't say I've missed that all these years, and have honeslty been thankful for the time away.
     I also can't say I didn't carry that into all of the other things I did like dog training or my day job.  I tried not to, I really did, but competition would rear it's ugly head.  So, I literally stopped participating.  I left the music scene, quit dog training, and work in small offices where I am the only one who does what I do.  I definitely don't play board or card games of any kind.
     Something miraculous happened though in my time away.  As much as I unburdened myself from having to compete, it opened up the time for examination in my life to understand why I would react the way I did when I did.  I've dealt with a lot of negative feelings and their roots over the past years and realized one key thing: if I don't feel good about myself, I'm not going to feel good about any body else, or their accomplishments, either.  That's it really, isn't it?  Someone who is angry all of the time for what ever reason, is not going to have the warm fuzzies for anyone, right?  So why, when you see someone who has more than you, is doing something perceived as better than you are, or getting all the breaks, wouldn't you get bitter?
     The problem is just being bitter isn't going to solve anything.  It isn't going to actually make you work harder to beat that person at their own game.  You are going to spend so much time talking about that person and what you're going to do, that many times you don't do it at all.  You just get stagnant in shallowness and resentment.  I think I point this out before, but it's easier to throw stones at someone who has put themselves out there than go out and accomplish something for yourself.  If you are always trying to beat another person at their accomplishments, the only person you end up beating is yourself.
      At that CD release party I noticed the change that years of looking into what makes me tick has brought.  Instead of being jealous that someone else was up there accomplishing, I felt excited and inspired to do my own thing.  It was a pleasant and most welcome surprise.  I am no longer going to sit on those sidelines and complain.  I'm going to actually do something.  Maybe I'll be better than the next guy; maybe I won't...I will be all me...a better me...consistently.
     Found this the other day on Facebook:

      That about sums it up. I have freed myself of that old way of running the race...

      ...Oh...about The Memory Card game I didn't play...those kids freaking tire me out! "Uncle" Eric can play with them...he has the stamina!

Happy Fishing!