I lived in Nashville, TN for a long time. It’s a special town, full of dreams, talent, and hard work. Some of the very finest musicians and writers call Nashville home, stimulating a pervasive musical energy and setting a high bar for quality.
If you’re a songwriter, performer, or musician setting foot in Music City, USA, you have a choice: be inspired by the deluge of talent around you...or be intimidated. Celebrate with open arms and take part in the community, or react defensively and either scrounge to get ahead or hide away.
Don’t worry, if Nashville’s not your city, you may still be left to a similar crossroads; just swap in your particular industry and take an internal deep dive.
Something in human nature causes us to compete, compare, and be envious. I had half a mind to think technology brought this virus to us, but the Theodore Roosevelt quote “ Comparison is the thief of joy” reminds me that people were measuring each other up long before the age of screens.
And how true that wisdom is; contentment with one’s self and situation seems to be the rare gem everyone is after. And, the second we catch wind of it, someone else’s blessings turn ours into curses. We never are or have enough. Crank up these reactions to eleven with the present day social media consumption and you have a life of constant comparison and unhappiness.
But does it have to be this way?
I really hope not.
I hope we can arrive at a place of sincerely cheering each other on, learning from each other, and growing together.
And how? I’m still figuring it out (and open to any advice). But, I have a couple of thoughts.
I once learned, I believe from preacher and author Timothy Keller, that humility is not having a low opinion of yourself, but rather having no opinion of yourself. A humble person is not dealing with an inflated or deflated ego, but no ego. He or she is living without self-judgment, not playing the comparison game and chasing a constantly-in-motion benchmark. In fact, that game simply cannot exist in a wholly humble spirit, as you can’t attack with or defend an opinion (of the self) you don’t have.
The other thought in regards to exiting the sphere of envy is finding your own path and walking it. Everyone has their own gifts to offer the world, their own unique traits that cannot be replicated. Live with this truth and sing your song with a content heart. Why compare apples and oranges? All you are stands apart and is to be shared and celebrated. And the same goes for everyone else.
I sing about this in my original song “Once Again”, from the album “Luminescence” (go to www.mattbednarsky.com/music and scroll down).
Your story is your own; embrace your pages, and read those of others with kindness, interest, and respect.
Some competition, in fun, can be good. But, competition in the sense of feeling threatened is false inspiration. Running away from something might get you somewhere, but you’re often left depleted and not truly satisfied. It’s a vicious cycle. But being inspired by others is more like walking towards a sunrise. And it’s invigorating.
So today, right now, I choose inspiration. I choose celebration. I choose to leave behind the game of the ego.
Won’t you join me?
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