We live in a competitive society.
Yes, there are plenty of team trophies for participation where every one's a winner .. accompanied by adult eye rolling.
But, by and large, our society is competitive and comparative.
We put three year olds on a soccer field and scream for success from the side lines. We wish for bigger houses. We push for higher grades. We aspire to better jobs. We want for improved experiences. We suck our lives dry with sporting and cultural practices. Why is she so put together, so patient, so polished, so creative, so .... SO?
We like to win.
And that's not all bad. Who doesn't want to be better, run faster, do more and improve?
As a former ballet company dancer, there came a day when I suddenly realized there would always be someone more aesthetic, more athletic, more talented, more energetic, just .... more ... than that girl staring back at me in the mirror. Always. No matter how hard I worked. The only competition worth anything would be that against myself.
Sometimes it's hard to remember that.
This spring season, Celia joined the girl's JV tennis team. Most JV high school teams are a spring board of competition for a Varsity slot. Ours was a no-cut team of girls who, having never picked up a racket, loved learning the sport together as a group of friends.
What's not to love about that? Playing just for fun. It lit a fire in each of them of excitement just to see themselves succeed.
I was asked to create a slide show presentation of these girls. Every time I whipped out my camera, they cringed in self conscious of their abilities.
On awards night, I had to send Celia with Christian as her cheering section due to another conflict. I was so darn sad to miss it but they had such a good time together. All dressed up for a banquet at our local tennis/golf club. They drove out of here full of eager grown-up responsibility.
On their return, my first words were, "Was our presentation better than the Varsity? Did we look good?" -- before I could catch myself.
I cringed with guilt.
Because all of those girls are examples and a reminder to me of what it's like to love the doing of something. And man alive did they have a good time in the doing of it.
It almost brings me to tears to see them stand where the only competition was internal.
And to them ... nothing else mattered.