There are some things every day that humble me and give me pause, such as the tempestuousness brewing right underneath the milky softness of Herr Meow, or the sudden and passionate knot I feel in my throat whenever I think that either he or his daddy might get hurt –which only becomes a bigger knot when little accidents actually do happen.
Some things that are less regular but crop up just as powerfully are my memories of past facets of life. I went with a friend to pick up her daughter from school and was set adrift in a wave of nostalgia, remembering how much I loved being surrounded by my high school students and the ways they had to make me laugh, think, and feel annoyed.
And sometimes, for no particular reason, my own actions give me pause and make me wonder just who I am and why am I doing what I am doing.
I won’t go into details, but I can go into feelings: do you ever get the feeling that your life as you live it isn’t good enough and though it might be up to your standards… if you should compare those standards to the ones of others, yours come out losing even if it’s a completely harebrained comparison in the first place?
Like, say you have a friend who’s… um… really good at growing tomatoes. You know that you’re not a top gardener and you are thankful that you have stuck for so long with your little ivies but suddenly seeing your friend’s gushing and glowing descriptions of everything tomato and just how easy it is and Look! Tomatoes! And everything becomes Better Tomato Gardening Because It’s Awesome and so on and so forth…
… and while you KNOW that getting started on being The Tomato Farmer is probably an exercise in futility, you start convincing yourself that it is not. After all, you’ve been growing ivies successfully for very many years and anyway, what is the difference between an ivy (grows well in shade, hardy, tolerant of temperature extremes, hardy, can go for a while without water, hardy) and a tomato (needs full sunlight, prone to pests, needs support for plant and fruit, needs constant fertilizing) anyway?
Do you see where I’m going here?
So when you, defying your own odds, harvest a tiny crop of cherry tomatoes… how do you feel?
Elated because you KNEW you could grow tomatoes?
Or defeated and hurt because the tomatoes will never be as beautiful as your friend’s?
Can you ever win when you’re really competing with yourself?