Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Competition time!

Do you need more time?

Ever feel like life isn't fair?

It's just work, work, work and then sleep, isn't it?

One might, after too much of the "grind", feel compelled to leave it all behind and travel. You might take a nice sun-soaked holiday or else leave it all for a few years and go to Australia or the Far East. Seems to be the template for the majority of people that I know anyway.

Don't get me wrong. Travelling is quite amazing. I love to witness different cultures as much as the next person and see how it all works in places that have different infrastructure to Ireland. But I know this is the one place I can ever call home. But why do you lose time? Why do you wish for more? Why do you take holidays away to make time for yourself? What keeps you in your shitty, unrewarding job and makes you wish to leave it all behind so much. Why is your life divided into two distinct categories that are time well spent and time wasted? I'll tell you why. It's competitiveness. Yep, the sun is one thing and rain another. We're Irish and we give out about it either way when it happens here.

So I'm calling you up on your competitive streak. You have one and so do I. It's one of the amazing factors that we survive on as human beings. It's how we have survived for the majority of time we've existed as a species and it will continue on until our extinction. But we aren't slaves to it, we just let it take over from time to time and some of us, a little less than that.

So how is a competitive streak to blame for lack of time and how has it anything to do with wanting to travel while you're young before you slave to the grind? It's really very simple. All one has to do is take a step back and look at any pattern that emerges in our civilisation and you can pick up on it. The one I want to attack today is competition. Competition with each other in order to have a better life. But better than whose? Better than your own? You are the one living it, why would you want a better life than the one you have? That makes no sense to me.

As far as I'm concerned, I have a great life. I rent a place in the city. I get ample amounts of sleep (5-8 hours usually does it), I write, I jam and I play video games. I have an awesome girlfriend (for the amount of time it'll last before one of us inevitably gets bored) I didn't have to be rich or have bundles of shit I don't need to get with her. I travel occasionally. I get my shopping done cheap and I drink modestly priced wine that doesn't taste a whole lot like vinegar. That is my life and I'm happy with it. I make it so and I compete with nobody. Occasionally I get badgered to have the perfect relationship like other couples seemingly have, but I nip that one as soon as it surfaces.

Now I'm going to take a guess at your life. You probably work for a company that you hate because you need money to buy shit. You get home in the evening and wish for more time in your day to do what you enjoy, or probably just to do nothing at all. You are buying a house that you can just about afford because you think you should. You have a wife or girlfriend that you probably love or probably have because you don't want to be alone, because everyone else isn't. Those car payments are getting you down. They are hard to keep on top of. But you need it to get from A to B so that's all right. You probably wish for a sports car or a luxury car because all the wealthy and famous people have them. You are in pretty good shape, maybe a few extra pounds here and there. Most people do. They are hounded daily by ads that tell them otherwise. You wish you could be thin or that the world thought that a normal person's shape was sexy. Sorry mate. We're all in competition here. You want it too, because apparently everyone else has it. Have you looked around lately?

So it is in my opinion that we are in competition in almost everything. I have heard friends say in the past that they "need to travel before they are too old". They need to travel because that's what everyone does and they envy it for some reason. I was no stranger to that myself either. I wanted to return to Japan because I felt like I should. Like I owed it to myself or something. It didn't take long before I called "bullshit" on it. For a start I was racing. Racing against no-one but my need to "succeed" in being like everyone else. I had friends who travelled to Oz and I worked with goal-orientated solicitors who travelled the world when they were young because they would soon settle into a life on unrelenting labour. They would have great stories to tell colleagues they didn't really like that the colleague would either resent them for, or or just not give a shit about either way. Who was I trying to impress with the pressure I was putting on myself? Great personal development and satisfaction starts when you appreciate what really makes you happy, not on the shores of some foreign land you were pressurised into travelling to. They say children are wise because they do not care about how their actions will affect others. How funny it is that I made my first two huge trips when I was just a "child" (I was 18. That's so damn young). I went because I wanted to, out of curiosity, not because I was trying to compete. Now that I have free time, I don't really care about travelling for the sake of competition with others and their seemingly marvellous lives. I still want to do it, but I feel like I can do it any time. Yeah, maybe someone wants to do it on the legit, but I don't feel the need to do it because they do!

Anyway, enough about travel. Went on well too long that.

The grass is always greener on the other side. I have no money at all and right now you are competing with me. You will get high and mighty and say things like "Get a job", "you're stealing my money" and so on. You envy me because you have a competitive streak in you. You want what I have. You want free time. You want the time to sit and give out about stuff or compare it against your "perfect" life. It's all relative I'm afraid. But I will give you some news you probably don't want to hear. I don't care what you have or what you want. That's your choice you see. Do you want to be a high-flying legal executive because they are "better" than everyone else? How about a well-paid surgeon? Do you want to be a police man or woman who gets an (ARGUABLY) nice state salary? This I'll tell you for free. They are only a better legal-executive, surgeon or police person than you. They are not better people. It's that simple. I know personally that they are no better a human being than I am. They still fart, argue, smell, fight, have sex, drink too much and are overweight just like you and me. I just don't feel the need to compete with them. OK, so they might have a palatial house in D4 that stands well in their name, but, like me, they too will die one day and that house will be left behind them. They will have slaved away all their good years just to leave a concrete epitaph behind, never truly enjoying life themselves.

I destroyed my completive streak a long time ago and I feel better for it. I exist only for myself, not for the shit job I once had or to have a comparative, better life than some snob. I don't even exist for a loved one. She can take me or leave me, depending on her own material or other needs. That's not my problem. I look after my health somewhat by taking vitamin supplements, fish-oil and anti-cholesterol drinks because it's convenient for me, not a multi-national drugs cartel. The only competitiveness left in me is easy to find on a Saturday night playing Street Fighter II with friends, or in a game of pool. It is virtual and it ultimately affects no one. No country will explode because of it and I won't be left feeling unfulfilled or in need to make more time as a result. I would suggest that you would look for the same in you.

But maybe you don't want to because you don't want to "give in" to my advice or think I am wrong in some way.

That's competition for you right there.


  1. that reminds me of the type of argument militant vegetarians make when they are trying to convert people... well, some people like meat and some people like to be competitive. it's a matter of choice. you've just said yourself that you enjoy competition in the form of playing computer games and pool and there are plenty of other types of competition that don't hurt anyone. they could result in personal achievment and/or things that benefit others ... or even just be fun.
    anyway, being realistic, if everybody just wanted to go on the dole and drink and play computer it'd be a bit of a shit world.

  2. Yep, no doubt the world needs worker ants. That is a free decision for anyone to make. A great one when you actually want to be an office administrator. Anyway, that's not particularly where my point lies. People just love to compete and sacrifice their happiness for the benefit of nothing but a fleeting importance that nobody really gives a shit about to begin with. It's pretty interesting when you start noticing it all around you. I could go into the equal distribution of wealth and all that but I'm in the middle of typing something else!