Einstein’s theory of relativity was taught to us using the image of a moving train. You too? The train is going very quickly, speeding dangerously perhaps, down a long track across the prairie. And you can see that it’s moving the speed of light (seemingly) because you are standing still, on your farmhouse front porch, watching it. Now, if you’re in the train itself, relaxing with some fancy drink, you’re not moving quickly at all. You’re sitting. So the train, relative to your position, is actually – still. This is life, we’re taught. However, I’ve come to realize and appreciate that relativity is not a thing. Not when it comes to our personal lives and the stories we’re living. Your happiness, your achievements, your struggles, your “cross” – they are as real and important as anyone else’s.
“Comparison is an act of violence against the self,” says Iyanla Vanzant. By making my pain or achievement relative to yours, it diminishes my experience and, therefore, my living. “It could be worse, I could be suffering like Nancy and her kids” or “I know it’s a big deal for me to hold the five minute plank, but for you, it would be nothing!”
No. No. No. Relativity, remember, is not a thing. Your truth isn’t relative to someone else’s. Your little experience is valid and good and worthy of attention. Your soul is beautiful and perfectly You. What is that expression – “don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle.” How true is this, and how often we need to remember it!
For me, it’s not as much about minimizing my joys and accomplishments. I know my limits, and I appreciate the strides and efforts it takes my personality, body, emotional or mental state to achieve something. I’m not interested or tempted to compare myself and those things I’m proud of doing or saying or feeling to someone else. I have a hard time honoring my own pain, my own defeats, my struggles. I am tempted to relegate them as “champagne problems” and dismiss them as “not as bad as it could be.”
Relativity. It’s not a thing. I should write that on a note and tape it to my mirror! Do you get what I’m saying? It takes more courage and vulnerability for me to actually admit that something I experienced is worthy of grief when all around me, “people have it so much worse.”
I’m going to try very hard to stay in my lane. I’m going to give myself permission to be excited about the little things and sad about even the littler things. I wish you peace and happiness and authenticity – if it’s true that life isn’t a dress rehearsal, then we should all be acutely aware and appreciative of every moment. For those moments mean everything, and they are not more or less special relative to someone else’s.