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Dang, auditions can do a number on you.

I didn’t get the part I was hoping for. I’m disappointed, but it’s fine. They offered me a fun, featured role, and I know that I’ll have a great time bringing my best to it and being part of a production that promises to be wonderful.

But it’s been interesting to observe myself this week, the psycho-emotional rollercoaster. Putting myself out there nakedly, wholeheartedly… Then second-guessing every note I sang and every line I read.. Wondering what they thought of me, if I would be deemed “good enough” for a call-back… The excruciating wait for the ultimate offer or rejection… Processing the outcome when the call finally came…

It’s a crazy thing to put oneself through. But I’m drawn to it, like a moth to flame, and I know I’ll keep doing it. (I suppose that’s a significant difference from the moth, who doesn’t get so many additional opportunities).

I was trying to practice a healthy detachment throughout. I gave it my all, but I knew that the final decision would factor a hundred considerations beyond my control. I also knew that the result wouldn’t really be a dictum about my talent or worth, however it went, and no matter how much it felt like one.

As I attempted to be calm and collected and reasonable about it all, I was interested to find myself tangled up in comparisons. Unhealthy, unhelpful, unkind comparisons.

Mostly, I compared myself to the other actors auditioning, my competitors. Again, note by note, line by line: “I sang that better than he did… Oh crap, he delivered that line really well… I’m more handsome than him… He’s got an enviable gravitas… Am I older? Is he fatter?… I have more range… He has more experience…” It’s an awful thing. Especially because we’re all trying to be supportive and friendly at the same time that we’re eyeing each other like a threat to our very existence.

The comparison didn’t stop there, though. I also found myself caught up comparing this theatrical company to the other one I recently worked with — positively and negatively. Comparing the audition process. Comparing the organization and communication or lack thereof between the production teams. Comparing community theater with my regular job. Comparing myself now to myself twenty years ago.

Comparison blows. No matter how you do it, someone or something gets diminished. Yet it occurs to me that it is something that most of us are doing ALL THE TIME. Ourselves vs. others. The way things are vs. the way we think they ought to be. Someone or something is deemed not as good, or not good enough, and that always hurts.

To counter the destructive pull of comparison, I’ve tried to remember that we’re always dealing with apples and oranges. We’re different people doing different things, with different life experiences and different soulful paths. It’s ridiculous to pretend that we can objectively measure any of this stuff, especially against each other. Everyone is a completely unique expression of perfectly divine human being. So in this regard, at least, is seems like comparison is — apples and oranges aside — fruitless.

In The Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes wrote: “God cannot know anything which is contradictory to the divine being. It is impossible for the infinite to know that which is finite. The superlative cannot be the comparative.” In other words, when we get stuck in comparison, we’re missing the big picture in which we’re all part of the shimmering wholeness.

There’s an old joke. How many apples grow on a tree? All of them! (Hardy har har). But it’s true — maybe the problem is that when we zoom in on one individual apple versus another, we fail to notice that each of us in truth embodies the potential of all the apples. Comparing all of the apples to all of the apples sounds foolish because that’s comparing everything to everything, and the very idea of comparison simply dissolves in such All-ness.

On the other hand, though, we do live in a world of evaluation and assessment, of measurement and balance, of things that work and things that don’t, of bits and bobs where it’s not actually everything everywhere all at once. While it may be impossible to fairly compare, nevertheless we do, and often we must. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a stark and brutal “who’s better?” sort of setup. But it is, in fact, important to be able to ask and answer questions about what works, what we want to change, what we are choosing, and how we might progress ourselves individually and together along the way.

Apples and oranges it may be, but still we need to decide whether we’d prefer an apple or an orange.

Everything and Always it may be, but still we need to choose whether we want all them apples at once, or just this one for this situation right now.

So I’m left with a couple of questions/thoughts that I’ll be gnawing on the rest of this week:

  • When we compare — and we probably will continue to do so even if we try really hard not to — when we compare, what are we comparing to? Compared to what?
  • Also — when we compare, is there a way to do so that draws us and each other towards our spiritual magnificence, rather than diminishes us in the face of it?

I think so. And I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, September 17, 10:00 am at Maple Street Dance Space. How do you like them apples? XO, Drew

©2023 Drew Groves

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