Several years ago a close friend gave me some sage advice. At the time I really didn’t want to hear it. In fact, my depth of understanding what it meant probably didn’t resonate with me at the time…yet, I never forgot those words. Now, the older I get…I find myself sharing these same words with others in my life.
What my friend wisely explained to me was — “Jim, don’t compare your insides with other people’s outsides.”
You know, when you’re in your 20s and still rather fresh out of college this sort of wisdom just doesn’t gain any traction to make complete sense. Nevertheless, I respected the person who uttered that statement so much I never forgot them…and you know what? The older I got the greater clarity the meaning behind those words would take on in my head.
Let’s put this into the proper sportsman’s context. Do you ever find yourself looking out across the street and admiring your neighbor’s new boat parked there in the driveway? Seriously, have you wondered either silently or perhaps even aloud…”Wow, how does he afford it? Does his career pay that well?”
As you turn and walk back into your garage it’s human nature to examine your life and wonder what are you doing wrong if life hasn’t treated you with the same kind of perks. Oh, yeah, it’s easy to let those sort of material goods owned by another individual to begin playing mind games in your head.
Perhaps another example is in order. Today it’s so easy to turn on TV and watch one of the cable channels offering non-stop outdoor programming showing success after outdoor success. Within 30 minutes this show host might be showing how he/she got their turkey grand slam seemingly effortlessly, while during the next half-hour another show host vividly details how he killed a Pope and Young class elk. Eventually you click the TV remote to off and you sit there wondering…”what am I doing wrong?”
The point is we all need to remind ourselves not to get caught up by comparing how we feel about our life with the lives of others. Sure, that can be easier said than done…I know that. But the truth of the matter is you don’t know how far in debt that boat purchase pushed that neighbor. Their life might be downright miserable because money issues are now creating all sorts of family squabbles and life sacrifices. On the outside it might look like they’re living a charmed life…but I can almost assure you that seeing a nice, new, shiny boat sitting in someone’s front yard is not necessarily a tell-tale sign of life success or family bliss.
Same goes for the high-profile hunter who kills more trophies during one season than most hunters will take during their lifetime spent in the woods. Is it justified to be a bit envious? You bet!! Is it fair to judge your weekend results with a person who spends their entire fall bouncing from one hunting lodge to another? Well, hell no!! The truth is it’s important to observe another person’s apparent success, but keep a proper perspective in mind when examining your own life.
Getting back to those sage words my friend once told me. Don’t get down on yourself because you can’t keep pace with your neighbors. And for heaven’s sakes a person who can’t seem to fill that empty space on their wall with a trophy mount has to realize that what they’re watching on TV is an extraordinary experience with lots of editing and assistance by seasoned hunting guides, etc.
Let’s be fair to ourselves. The outdoors is not a competition to see who can have the nicest equipment or to bring home the most impressive jaw-dropping trophies. Sometimes it takes a bit of maturity to finally come to this realization. I can assure you…the sportsman who impresses me the most are the ones who cherish what they have in life and keep it real. After all, it’s the point of getting beyond making comparisons with your life that allows a person to finally achieve the deepest level of personal satisfaction possible.
©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.