Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Comparison is the Eighth Deadly Sin



I used to be friends with a dental hygienist
who judged people by their teeth
and so my mind begins to wonder
about the condition of my bicuspids and molars
so much that we eventually drift apart.

If this is true for teeth, says Perfectionist,
then surely other experts cultivate
similar measures for acceptance?
And so, the professions of various acquaintances
begin a long march across the field of comparison.

The merchandising manager at the dress shop
had to know about my threadbare closet
(how the floral blouse always shows up on Wednesdays)
and thus my limited wardrobe would invariably
have to circumvent that friendship

A psychologist raises my lingering suspicion
that he has X-ray vision into my psyche;
the nurse knows instinctively about that small goiter
the fireman discerns the smoke detector battery must be dead
and a pastor knows the hidden depths of my soul

Expert knowledge becomes a smile killer,
beauty competition, mental or physical health exam
home safety evaluation and a spiritual assessment
if everyone can see me the way I see myself
All those not-so-hidden little faults on parade

And it crushes me then that my life as a poet
could possibly discourage others as they read my words
quash so many, if they think I look at their writing
with some measure of carefully crafted eloquence
and find them wanting.

Comparison kills.
On the other hand, connection grows
if we set aside the rulers
human measures of success
better-than, less-than subjectivity

then, we are grateful to learn from friends 
the life-giving principles of collaboration,
share knowledge like a library loans books
our own personal Wikipedia
downloaded from one to another

Expertise to build a life:
that caring for teeth improves overall health
certain clothing can minimize body flaws
that no, it’s not just me
who feels inadequate at times

If we only compare notes about life. love. longing.
put down one-upmanship, then
home can be safe, goiters can be treated
and redemption is possible, 
even for a judgmental hygienist
or a renegade poet.

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