Too often we treat life like a horse race when it’s really just a merry-go-round.
We mount a steed in eager anticipation. The bell rings, our horse starts moving, and, in our race to realize our dreams, we believe the competition has begun.
So we run.
And we try to win.
The Pressure To Compare
We are in a society that pressures us to compare ourselves against the success or failure of others.
Let’s take you, for instance.
Are you jealous that others are happier and more successful?
Are you frustrated that someone else is making more money when you know you can do better than them?
Do you wish you had the life your friend is leading? That one who seems so much better off?
We are pressured to compare every day.
If you use this product you will be a better person.
If you subscribe to this magazine you will live a happier life.
It’s as if we are forever pushing the Sisyphus rock and believing we’ll get to the top of the mountain.
But there is no fame at the top of the mountain.
There is no money or happiness at the top of the mountain.
The only thing at the top of the mountain is the top of the mountain.
The Things We Value
I used to equate intelligence with wealth, and superiority with celebrity.
We do that in our society – we place certain genetic traits on a pedestal and simply pat the head of other traits like an obedient dog.
We idolize athletic prowess and physical symmetry, yet we simply smile and nod at the determination, honesty, and heroism of the every-person.
We pay people millions of dollars because they can toss a ball. Sure they are racist, homophobic, and borderline criminal – but have you seen how great they can play/sing/dance?
Of the top 4 professional leagues in the United States (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL), the average player salary is $4.6m.
Meanwhile, the average elementary school teacher earns, at most, $67k – the equivalent to a mere 5 days of work for a pro athlete.
I’m not saying athletes shouldn’t be handsomely paid for their prowess. I’m just pointing out the reality of our value system.
But here’s the thing:
Celebrity is not superiority.
Wealth is not intelligence
Leadership is not a title
A poor man can have wealth.
A rich man can be broke.
A celebrity can be a completely despicable person.
We are all human.
We are all simply the result of a genetic lottery, riding our own horse on the same carousel.
Which brings us back to the steed you’ve mounted.
The Good Life
Your race in life is uniquely yours. The horse you selected is a mirror of yourself.
Maybe your horse is galloping up and down, its mane and tail perpetually whooshing in the wind. You want to be on the outside line, to feel life head-on. You’re going so fast that the world zips by in a perpetual blur. But it’s not fast enough. It never is, is it?
You see the horses in front and try to catch them. You turn your head to see those behind and you want to outrun them.
You whip the horse. “Faster!” you scream. But you can never move fast enough.
Then again maybe you’re not that person. Perhaps your ride is more measured. You stay in the comfort of the middle of the pack.
Maybe you opt to ride an elephant or a camel to show your uniqueness. But alas, your animal is never unique enough. Somebody else has a better one. You want that one. You want theirs.
But no matter what you’re riding, eventually, the carousel stops.
You finally see the world without spinning.
It is then that you realize that life is not a race after all.
No single horse is ahead of another.
No horse jumps higher or runs faster.
No horse travels any further than another.
We are all just traveling on the same carousel going around and around until the bell rings.
There is no winning and no losing.
There is neither better nor worse.
We all started in the same place and, when our bell rings, we’ll all end up the same.
The only purpose we have is to smile and enjoy the ride.