Saturday, November 26, 2011

Take a Number

Three pies
One cheesecake
Two jello salads
Eight family members
Six bags of yard wasteThirty-two hours and counting (down)
One half of one front bed, and one entire backyard still to go.
Seven swans a-swimmingSix geese a-laying
Twenty-nine days until Christmas
Two applications finished
Three applications in process
Five hundred words or less.

These days it seems all we do is quantify life.  How many more until....?  How many left until.... ?  How many completed?  Unfinished?  Standings.  Rankings.  Ratings.  Take a number, because you are one. And once you are a number, you are a measurable, comparative entity: higher than some, lower than others.  You've lost all traces of personality and your identity is now calculated and exact. 

Being a number ... it's not a very nice thought.  But not only do we allow ourselves to be defined and compared numerically, we do the same to everybody else.   After all, how can we know where we stand in the ranks if we don't know the scores of others as well.?  And, for better or worse, once we know, we are consumed with moving up and being better than the person ahead of us.

Now, there's  nothing wrong with self-improvement.  It's important to continually stretch and grow.  But moving up in the ranks merely for the sake of being ahead has nothing to do with self-improvement.  It's positioning and posturing for bragging rights and that feeling of superiority.

What if we could be content with ourselves and others, celebrating who and what we are and ignoring where we are in the greater hierarchy?  Would we be able to enjoy our individual gifts and those of other?  Would we be able to be content without comparison?  Are our own merits enough, or do we need to be better than others before we can feel good about ourselves?

I don't think it's possible to change the world. We are by nature a highly competitive, comparative society. But during this season of Advent -- this season of waiting for events far greater and grander than we could ever hope to be  -- it's the perfect time to set aside the numbers and rankings and examine who and what we are.  We all possess gifts as individual as we are, and these gifts of the spirit -- of our spirit -- are perfect on their own merits.  There is no comparison.

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