Competition has been trumped (pun intended) by wining at all cost. It took me along time to accept that I was competitive. I remember playing softball in high school gym class. I hung out with the less than athletic bunch. We were always on a team together, and they didn’t care about winning. I remember trying to get them to care about just getting the bat on the ball or just reaching toward the fly ball when in the outfield. I think getting them to try a little was a bit competitive.
Because of my upbringing, I saw competition as being negative. My Dad had my younger sister and me compete at EVERYTHING. It was no fun because she was angry when she lost, and I felt less than when she won. I learned that others would use the psych-out to win. That didn’t seem fair, because it wasn’t the task itself that was challenged, but playing on compassion weakening the desire to be the winner. From a young age, I related more to “we” than “me.” Those examples of competition made me hate the concept. I think participation trophies belittle the benefit of healthy competition—spurring on your competitor to be more skillful. They emphasize doing something for an outside reward. If everyone gets a trophy you can still tell which is better by who has the bigger shinier one.
There will always be people better and worse than you. Today it seems that too many people gloat at being better than or feel the victim when they are worse than.
It wasn’t until I realized I measured my skills as bar to jump over that I was being competitive with myself. I embrace this kind of competition. If I could play a scale at 120, I wanted to get it to 132. If I heard someone play a passage in a sonata faster than me, I wanted to do that too! I practiced singing and playing at the same time. I had 3 timbres: flute alone, singing alone, and flute & singing together. When I heard some African drummers in Adam Rudolf’s “Go Orchestra” create these cool grooves with ingressive singing, I thought that would be cool to do with my flute. Now I have four timbres to play with. Later I thought, if I could sing and play, why can’t I speak and play? Want to hear how that turned out? Listen to my introduction to Piazzola’s Tango: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Rg6QGduTyk
What took me longer to accept is that I cannot do everything. At the flute convention last week, I heard Sharon Bezaly play Lindberg’s “The World of Monteugretta” at the Saturday night Gala concert. I listened in awe at her facility. I walked away inspired and yet knowing that her skill was something outside of my ability. I can hear some of you thinking, “Ellen you’re just limiting yourself,” but I disagree.
I think that when we can accept our weaknesses we can except our strengths and our gifts and then REALLY shine.
We all have a unique perspective. It’s just a fact. No-one can see the world from where you are. That is why it’s called a point of view. Each one of us has a different point from which we walk in and view this world. I think of my basic art class where I learned how to draw one point perspective. Depending where I put that point, the drawing was different.
If I could have the world according to Ellen, I would have everyone be competitive with themselves, appreciate the strengths that others exhibit and know that each of us is unique and important to the entire fabric of the world.