Monday, June 14, 2021

Comparison (Again?)

There is this story, a Birbal or Tenali Raman story depending on which side of the Vindhyas you live in, about the chap being asked to make a line small without touching it. And the lad draws a bigger line by the side, in comparison to which the original line is smaller. That, essentially, taught me the value of comparisons. (Should have taught me lateral thinking? What's that? THINKING is something I try to do as little as possible without you complicating the matter with all these various flavors of thinking)

The problem, though, is that I think that example is sort of not really applicable to real life. The basic idea is all right, if they had drawn two lines and asked the chap to make the smaller line larger without touching the smaller line, it would be more appropriate. THEN, you know you only have to rub out a enough of the larger line to make it the smaller line. Which, essentially, is how comparisons seem to work for most of humanity.

I mean, yes, we have all heard about this so-called healthy competition and how you should learn to work to become better than the guy who is currently doing better than you. That is all very well in theory but in practice, though...

"Oh! He sucks up to the teacher which is why he gets better marks." Or, sucks up to the boss and so on and so forth.

It's far simpler to belittle the other chap's achievements, sort of rub off the larger line, so to speak, than to buckle down and actually work, you know. I mean, look at the relative effort involved and it is a frigging no-brainer.

THAT comparison strategy is what really works across the board. "These guys call themselves engineers and climb the ladder based on their degrees. Don't know the first thing about why the motor conks." "These MBAs, just because they can TALK..." and so on and so forth. (Yeah, there are times when these things are true of specific people but I'm yet to see anyone made happy by wallowing in such comparisons. The happy guys are the ones who either get away from that situation or ignore it, not the ones who perpetually scratch at it.)

Thankfully, to an extent, the comparisons do NOT work this way as long as the person concerned thinks he CAN get to that level. If the person both realizes that there is no Akbar or Krishnadevaraya who has prohibited extending the 'smaller line' AND thinks that it IS possible to extend it to the level, if not beyond, the 'larger line' which it is being compared to...well, if both those things hold true and if he is willing to put in the hard yards, then the comparison is healthy. How often does that happen, though?

As you keep growing, the 'larger lines' which you CANNOT supersede keep increasing. (Except, of course, if you are Elon Musk or Bezos or some such. In which case you probably fume about a Trump or a Modi OR envy a Nadal or a Federer OR some such...IF you are made that way, that is.) If you have mucked up at school, these engineers and MBAs WILL probably be lines you cannot become larger than...except if you have a garage where you can churn out a Microsoft or Facebook. By the time you hit middle age, if youngsters have crossed you on the career ladder, they probably ARE going to be 'larger' than you. AND so on.

As long as comparisons push you to extend YOUR smaller line, they are the savor of life. When all it causes you to do is to belittle others in order to feel better about yourself...

Me? Why should you always make it about me? Have I not said enough times before? The only comparison I make is with beasts in hibernation and...

I have not YET given up on beating them at their game!


  1. Commenting after a long time, though I read all your posts. They make me smile and think at the same time. Some achievement that! Keep blogging!

    1. Good to hear from you after all this while and extremely gratifying to hear that you read all my posts, Zephyr! Thanks

  2. I used to love these tales as a child, maybe then it was just entertainment, now we can understand the point they were trying to make. Quite similar to your post