Cam – Burning House
There are two cafes in Stratford with back decks. One sports large umbrellas and cold brewed coffee that will melt all of your anxieties, and another peeks out from towering trees and ivy that clings to the walls. This was, of course, the summer of patios, and on a particular night an old friend and I sat long beneath the branches as the city sounds settled into the background.
She is the oldest of four sisters, and was spending a summer with them for the first time in years. Why is it that our families cause us to compare each other more than other social situations? We agreed that we so often feel pitted against each other in some sort of game of life, reaching for milestones before another gets there first. She said that in each of these situations we are faced with a choice: we can either compare one to another against our varying measuring sticks of success, or we can celebrate with them.
I think of this often, because it is instinctive to compare instead of celebrate. I so badly want to be able to celebrate with my people no matter my personal circumstances, even when it’s hard, even when it’s impossible. Celebration is a gift, and we rob our home teams and ourselves when our instinct is to immediately wonder why we haven’t reached that milestone too, why I am single or childless or without plans on a Friday night. In that moment, when I hear of someone else’s good fortune, I’m asked to think beyond myself, because their story is not about me at all. I get that thinking beyond myself can be the biggest hurdle in a day, but their new job, travel plans, engagement, etc., is not something for me to covet, it is an opportunity to celebrate. And is that not one of the greatest gifts we can offer in relationship?