I once had a writing client call me, close to tears, on his 33rd birthday. He was upset because he had reached the age Jesus Christ had been at the time of the crucifixion, and (in my author’s words) “I just haven’t done nearly as much as Jesus did!”
It was all I could do NOT to say, “Well, duh. You’re not Jesus.”
The thing is? In a weird way, I understood what my author was feeling.
Sometimes, I do feel a little crappy about myself when I read about the vast accomplishments of great figures from history—people like Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin. These were people who did so much during their lives, it’s almost ridiculous.
When you look at men and women who invented things and left behind massive legacies, it can be easy to feel a little like you don’t measure up.
But then I remember something else: The people I respect and admire most (da Vinci, Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and yes, even Jesus) lived long before the invention of the zillion little distractions that face us every single day in our modern world.
Ben Franklin? Didn’t have to deal with the annoying ping of a new email coming in every ten seconds.
Leonardo didn’t find himself blowing off work, wondering instead whether the latest season of Orange Is the New Black is available yet on Netflix.
And Jesus? Didn’t have to worry about being sucked into the black hole of social media, forever repeating the dreaded cry we all make (admit it!): “Just one more click and THEN I’ll get back to work!”
When I think about all that, I feel a little better. I bet I’d get a lot more done if I weren’t being bombarded by digital nonsense all day, every day.
Besides, what’s the point in comparing yourself to other people? The only comparison that makes any sense is to compare your current self to your past self—and if the “new” you is better than the old one, then you’re doing just fine.
And so am I. I may not be Ben Franklin or Leonardo—and I’m certainly no Jesus—but I’m doing all right for who I am.