Today on my run, a woman whizzed past me. When she was far enough ahead, I recognized her from the gym at work. We're about the same build and height and once when she was running on the treadmill beside me, I felt something close to kinship because her pace was about as slow as mine.
I broke off our imaginary friendship today because well – that was a bit of a show-offy move if you ask me. She couldn’t let me stay in the lead? She had to whip past me at lightning speed? (I may be exaggerating because even when she was ahead of me she still appeared to be the slowest runner on the planet – which may be visual enough for you to picture how slow I really am)
You’d think I’d have sped up, sprinted past her. But that’s not my style. And it’s not why you think – I might have been able to take her. I searched for reasons to explain to any passersby I imagined to be wondering why I chose to lag behind. Came up with excuse after excuse. My legs are shorter. She’s (probably) had better training. I’m bigger chested. I can’t be running full speed with my Dolly Parton-esque frame even if I’m wearing 12 bras.
On and on.
Then I shook my head, chuckled because I knew the truth. I’m a slow runner. And also? I’m not competitive. It may be that I’m not competitive because I’m a slow runner. But also true is that I just don’t like competition. And it’s not because it’s against my ethics or goes against my deep moral fiber. I secretly believe that if you think you’re better than me at something – well you might be right.
Because when I feel somebody silently comparing themselves to me, I shut down. I hardly ever feel that I’ve got one up on anyone. Here’s how it works with me: If you think you’re superior, I will likely agree with you. Your house is bigger, gorgeous? I have no doubt – don’t even need to see it. Better mother, wife, worker? Hey you don’t have to convince me.
I don’t know why I’m like this. Maybe part of it comes from never having played on a team sport. We were a large family. Some of us were encouraged to focus on reading – it was cheaper. Maybe some of it comes from having lived in the third world for my formative years – knowing that it doesn’t matter how big your house is because there are millions of kids the same age as yours dreaming about a clean glass of water and one decent meal.
There’s also this: Deep down, I really just want us to get along. Let’s talk about how we’re alike. Let’s show each other our wounds, use our words to heal them. Let’s teach our kids the value of kindness, the meaning of real sharing - train them not to roll their eyes and turn the channel when child sponsorship commercials come on. Because in my very humble opinion? It’s everybody's business.
Seeing to it that those beautiful dirty faces eat.
At Gramma and Grampas on Easter.