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Playing Catch Up

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Don’t you just hate it when you get hit with something from out of left field that knocks the wind right out of your sail? I do. I especially hate it when I’m just minding my own business. I hate it when I’m just living my life, going about my day, not bothering anybody else, and seemingly out of nowhere—pow! I get hit, by someone else’s good news!

Little did he know that the information he was so casually providing was landing in my life like a bomb wrapped up inside of a time release capsule. It was a few years ago now, when Auguste ran into a friend that we hadn’t seen in awhile. I remember it vividly because it was a turning point moment in my life. As the sun set warmly on a summer night, the two stood on the corner in the neighborhood we shared, and did a quick “catch me up” just so that he could come home and tell it all to me.

I listened later, as he downloaded all of the benign and harmless details about their kids, their dog, and their trips. All of this was standard fare—no need really for me to look up from my book. It was not until Auguste got to the part where he just signed a deal for his latest book and she has been busy working late these days because she is editing one of the most talked about and highly anticipated movies of that year, when I realized I had just been hit by a bomb. The kind that slowly releases itself over two or three days, exploding all over the self-esteem, destroying all feelings of self worth. I hate that!

Did you know that studies have been done that have determined that the most fundamental desire of human beings is to be admired and thought well of—more than even the desire to be loved? Imagine. Well, I was resisting the impulse to admire and think well of any of this stuff about new books and highly anticipated movies. I was covertly refusing to applaud their success because this punch in my stomach was making me feel sick and that is when it really hit me. Back then, I didn’t have the bandwidth to admire, acknowledge, or applaud anyone who was truly winning, anyone who was taking a bite out of life and experiencing the victories that go along with that because, back then, I didn’t have a game of my own. Back then, I was merely going through the ho-hum motions of a humdrum existence, surviving each day as it came and dying a very slow death. I was alive but not LIVING; I was living but not ALIVE because I wasn’t playing a game that was worthy of my time.

And you? Have you ever had the experience of being hit with something from out of left field when you were just minding your business? Don’t you hate it when a punch in the stomach knocks the wind right out of your sail? For me, that day, everything was “O.K.” until I found out that someone else’s flower was blooming all over the place because that drew back the curtain that was hiding my profound complacency, leaving me exposed—to myself. I was confronted by the reality that I wasn’t really playing and so finding out that someone else was winning made me feel, somehow, left behind. The pain of not feeling included woke me up to the hard and cold truth that I had no way to participate because I didn’t have a game.

It is true that the most fundamental desire of human beings is to be admired and thought well of more than even the desire to be loved, but sometimes it;s just hard to express admiration for another’s extraordinary accomplishment. It’s hard to feel good about others when you’re not feeling so good about yourself. When you know deep down in your heart that you are not giving it all you’ve got, minding your own business but not taking care of it, you can count on the fact that you will keep getting hit with bombs from out of left field.

Arm yourself today! Expand your capacity to be generous about an old friend’s good news, by choosing to play a game that it is big enough to include your willingness to admire, acknowledge, and celebrate others when they win, allowing their accomplishments to provide you with the opportunity to turn up the volume in your life.


Related story: Make the Memories, It’s Worth It


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