Focus on What Matters

My significant other, a Pennsylvania native, recently moved to our community from the west coast, specifically, the Pacific Northwest, where he lived for the last 20 years.  He often talks to me about all the natural beauty he enjoyed there.  From the beautiful coastline to the snowcapped mountains.  He tells me stories of hitting the beach and touching snow all in the same day, hiking trails with ocean views, trips to Crater Lake, and what it is like to stand before a giant redwood. It sometimes feels like everything is bigger and better there.  He even swears that the blueberries are sweeter!

Ashamedly, I listened but eventually discovered that instead of allowing him to enjoy his recollections, encouraging him to share them with me, I found myself feeling the need to interject, but we have beauty here too.  Just look at those mountains, did you see that deer drinking from the creek?  Look at the way the setting sun reflects on the Juniata River, casting an orange glow across the water, and we have home-grown produce in abundance.  In other words, I assume a defensive position, almost as if it was a competition of sorts.

Why am I telling you this?  A few reasons come to mind.  The first is a purely selfish one.  I find it cathartic, soul cleansing.  Sometimes when you put into words what you are struggling with it is easier to identify the unwanted behavior and correct it.  When it comes right down to it, I had to come to grips with the fact that my defensive feelings were coming from a place of fear.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  I was afraid that he would find my home, the community that I love so deeply, to be inadequate, lack-luster, not good enough, and I became defensive. The important lesson I learned was that we are not the Pacific Northwest, nor will we ever be. We are beautiful Central Pennsylvania, and that is enough.  It was an exceptional reminder that comparison in any area of our lives leads to unhappiness and low self-esteem.

Another reason I have confessed my missteps is that if I am struggling in this area, there is a good possibility that someone else might be too. Yes, we should love and defend our home, it is worthy of our fierce love and protection, but we must be careful not to compare. It is a dead-end road; and we need not waste our time traveling on it. Of course, I cannot finish without a quote.  I do love my quotes, and this one is especially apropos.  “Focus on what others have and you feel that you have so little.  Focus on what you do have, and you realize that you have so much.” Great words to live by written by author Hrishikesh Agnihotri.