The Winner

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Photo: Wesley Eland

 

It was never about the money, or the endless calculations, or the disappointment she learned to expect and accept. The odds were against her. She knew that. Everyone said so. Many laughed.

And yet …

She could scarce believe it when she saw the numbers and date and words line up, when she knew that for once — in the way that mattered most — she was the winner.

She rubbed her eyes. Checked everything again.

She called to double check. Her heart thrumming in her chest.

She wrote down every detail: The place. The time. The plan. The day when her life would forever change.

Or had it changed already?

That night she tossed and turned and even though she finally fell asleep, she woke before dawn with her heart aflutter, and gazed into the ceiling till the morning brought with it the first few rays of sun.

A day reborn. Herself, perhaps, as well.

Nights will never be the same, she thought. Nor mornings.

Nor any other time in any other hour. Winter or summer. Light or dark.

She counted down the days, excited beyond words and somewhat frightened — should she tell? Who to? How much to share? How much to keep to herself?

Eventually she’ll have to. …

Oh, there will be a celebration! She could list in her mind the friends who’d rejoice with her. She could also note the dread of recognizing those whose green-eyed-monsters might awaken. Will she lose friendships over this? Will jealousy taint what she’d never quite dared to believe would be awarded her?

“I won the lottery,” she whispered to herself, holding the bit of paper between shaking fingers. “They’ve checked it out and they’ve agreed. It’s approved. Two more weeks … I won’t believe it till I’m there. Till after. Till I’m back home with a new life in my hands.”

She pulled out the photo. Drank it in. The ebony chubby cheeks. The dimple in the elbow. The eyes. These eyes …

“I’m coming, Bomani …” She kissed the picture that the orphanage included with the adoption papers. “Mama’s coming for you, my little son-to-be.”

 

 

For V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Lottery

 

Beyond Compare

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In this world of constant media tally, hierarchy, and perceived competition, it is all too easy to compare ourselves to others. It is especially easy to rank ourselves relative to those who do things better, achieve more, seem to know more, have more, do things with more ease than we managed so far. After all, there seems to be an endless stream of listings–the best in this, the most accomplished in that, the richest/biggest/strongest/thinnest/best-dressed/most-tweeted/most-friended/most-bought … It is as if we are expected to place ourselves along ordinal strings of relative abilities (and by extension, relative worthiness). As if we are to define ourselves by where others are. To chase the pace of others so we not lose our spot.

Compare yourself to others, and neutral becomes unimportant. You either win, or lose. You are either the best, or risk being the worst. You run: for more wealth, more friends, more recognition, better placement. You look behind your shoulder. You run some more.

Comparison itself is not a bad thing. It can serve as catalyst for progress–you may see someone achieve what you did not know was possible, and it can give you hope to try for dreams you did not dare believe you could make real before. However, it can also–and all too often do–serve to put yourself down, to discourage, to dissuade, to convince yourself that you just don’t have what it takes (though supposedly others do). Comparison can have you believe that you cannot do it and might as well give up on the dream before you even try it. Because others already did it better. Or got there first. Or would.

Comparison is energy–it just is. How we use it defines whether it binds or frees us. Whether it restores or drains. Having awareness of what is possible builds. It infuses motivation. It sustains. It fosters growth. However, relative worthiness stilts. It instills anxiety. It fosters disillusion. It chips at self-worth.

You have the power to choose which forms of comparison you use. Be wary of how you compare, to whom, and why you do so. If you choose to compare yourself to others to show how better you may be than some; know that alongside whatever you think you are measuring, you will also be planting a seed of doubt and failure by making your own worth dependent on your relative ranking among others. If, on the other side, you compare yourself to what you could before and where you’ve come from and what you now believe is possible; know that alongside this perspective you’d be planting seeds of strength and clear-seeing. You will be inviting possibility, expansion, gratitude, and generosity.

Comparing yourself with others–by definition–nurtures shoots of jealousy. They may be well hidden under social platitudes and self-deceit, but you must know that if your sense of who you are depends on where you place in relation to the success of others, there will be some spot of wishing for another’s failure so that your space may advance.

This is not necessary for growth. Like light, more progress by more souls only means brighter futures for each one and less darkened corners for all.

Set yourself free of rank and skin-deep importance. This does not mean you just lean back on half-baked laurels and dismiss the need for further growth. Rather, it calls for finding motivations that do not include climbing over others to get ahead. It calls for identifying the mountains that are uniquely yours to climb and the vistas that are meant for you to see. It releases possibilities that no one can take away from you, for they are within you, and not dependent on another’s stumbling or bowing down or burning out.

Use others’ success as guideposts, not podiums. Utilize their abilities as mentoring for what is possible. Identify what you would and would not accept as paths to growth. Find hope in journeys that belay what you used to believe your could do, then chart anew. There are no limits and there is no race but those you place against your own old habits or lazy bones.

You’ll be stoking the fire of your own dreams, rather than the engine that spins the hamster-wheels of others. Cut ties to relative succeeding, you will enable others to follow and snip free their own. Disavow competition for self-knowledge and self-prodding. Your horizons will become clear of motivations that were soaked and cloaked in jealousy and greed. You’ll walk where you are meant to walk and be who you are meant to be.

Moreover, you will forge a path for young ones, caught as they may already be in constant ranking as a measure of self-worth.

Become a beacon for individual ability. For less competition. More growth.

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