I think we all know that, right? I’m just not sure we all live it.
Back in my country music days (many moons ago), when I was traveling “the road” with my band, I would often get guests up to sing. I thought it was fun to jam with other musicians or just hear their talents augmented by my band. I thought it added spice to my presentation.
One time, just when she was starting to get “big”, Michelle Wright showed up at one of my gigs. Naturally I asked her to get up and sing and she happily accepted. During the break, before she took to the stage, another singer friend of mine whispered “Aren’t you worried about getting her up to sing?” I scratched my head. “Why should I be worried?” I countered. My friend replied “Because she is so good. She has a major record deal. Don’t you think she will, you know, upstage you?”
Well gee whiz I swear to God that thought had never crossed my mind. I knew Michelle was good. I knew she had a major record deal. I knew she was on her way whilst I was still slogging away in grotty bars, getting minimal airplay on my self-financed records. But I was never afraid even for a moment that she might upstage me. First off I had confidence in my own abilities and secondly I was well aware there was plenty of room for both of us. Actually … for all of us.
Because life is not a competition. I was never in contest with Michelle. I applauded her successes, mourned her failures, watched her living the dream and not once did I think Damn, if it wasn’t for her it might have been me.
Because that is not how life works. We don’t get to win just because someone else loses. We win when we support others, celebrate their achievements and keep on doing our own thing to the best of our ability. Not theirs. Ours.
I recently read a blog by Glennon Doyle Melton (Momastery, Love Warrior) wherein she states that it behooves us all to “quit fighting for a seat at the table, but start building a bigger table and invite everybody you know to share it with you.”
I love this analogy. Love it huge. Just like the table I hope I am continually building. There are no boundaries. It can be as fucking big as I want it to be and I can invite anyone to sit at it and I can even welcome party-crashers. Because there is an endless amount of space at my table. I am in competition with no one.
That’s not to say I’m not human. Social media allows us daily glimpses into the “lives” of our friends. Well, at least the lives they choose to show us. And sure, sometimes I’m a little envious of a fabulous vacation or a new house or beautiful clothes, Botoxed faces and even big happy families. But then I remind myself how grateful I am for ALL I do have. And all of these blessings that have graced my friends become blessings to me too. Because my table is bursting with joy! And as I choose to delight in all the joy around me I realize that yes, I am getting my own fair share too.
Even now when I do my little jazz gigs I welcome guests to the stage. I’ve had some pretty big talents join me and I relish every moment. When I recorded my Christmas CD several years ago I made a point of designing it as “Vickie van Dyke & Friends”. I wanted to be surrounded by all that talent. How could I not shine when I was surrounded by the brightest stars?
And with my girlfriends? All of my beautiful girlfriends. We don’t compete over who is youngest, skinniest, least wrinkled, or has the best beau, job, car or wardrobe. We simply hang out around our huge table drinking wine, sharing stories, bemoaning failures and boosting each other up. I have girlfriends who are 30 years younger than I am and 20 years older. Plus everything in between. We do not compete. We’re too busy supporting and celebrating.
So the next time you’re worried that somebody else’s piece of the pie is bigger or juicier that your own … don’t. Don’t worry, don’t succumb to jealousy, don’t play the victim and don’t get angry. Invite them (and their pie) to your table. Share in the feast. Like fishes and loaves, I guarantee the feast will multiply and there will be more than enough for everyone.