A competitive nature seems to be pretty important in today's world, culture, society and economy. You have to have drive and ambition. How else can one climb a ladder whose top rung is the obvious and ultimate goal? Without a strong sense of competitiveness how will your bank account accurately reflect who you are as a person? And there can be no outward manifestation of your ambition if you have no credentials, no fancy car, or understated yet extravagantly priced possessions.
I have none of these things. No fancy car, no credentials, no big bank account and no competitive spirit. I'm not a competitive person. I'm not really ambitious, in the way mainstream society values. I don't care about winning, even against myself, when it comes to careers, sports, physical fitness or the trappings of a highly successful life. I just don't care about "winning."
For many people, I have outed myself as lazy, and possibly aimless. Without knowing me, you might even think I've described myself sufficiently to determine that I'm a leech on society, taking whatever I can whenever I can. However, despite lacking any deep seated desire to win, to do better than anyone else around me, or compete until the gold medal is mine, I am not aimless. I'm not a leech on society.
Because I do care deeply and passionately about a great number of things. There are ideas and goals which mean so much to me that I'd give up or sacrifice much of what I have for their fruition. But I'm still not competitive or ambitious in the American sense of the word. Everything I care deeply about is rooted in the heart and soul, not in the wallet or bank account or mutual fund or stock portfolio.
Health and happiness, contentment and inner peace, are not quantifiable things. You can't measure them or show their growth potential. Their dividends pay off in quiet and personal ways. If my life has been well lived, there will likely not be articles written about me, plaques in my honor, or even a giant trust fund for future generations to grow or squander. The leftovers of my life will be stories about my humanity, about my love for those in my tribe. I find that I rarely have anything to offer those who seek status or power in the groups we make for ourselves. I have no power to offer because I don't seek power.
Sometimes I'm quite certain that this means I fail to measure up to other people's standards and rubrics. Perhaps I seem selfish, neglectful or apathetic when compared to the other, more socially gifted, around me. And the fact that I really don't care doesn't help. Of that I'm quite certain! But my happiness lies in knowing that my own peace creates contentment and harmony in those around me. When my energies are shared with those I love, I hope that they know my commitment and my wholehearted engagement.
I will never care about the sums of money in any account bearing my name. Nor will the largest house mean anything of value to me. My mode of transportation can always ever be what serves my family's safety, without regard to what it "tells" people about who I am. If there is ever anything I hope to "win" it will be the knowledge that I left people feeling good about themselves, that I came to them with an open heart and calm presence, and that my "currency" was never gossip or secrets.
I'm not competitive or traditionally ambitious. And for that I have no regrets.
|Hand lettering by Lisa Congdon|