Welcome to the Blog Hop “Comparison: Thief of Joy?” where bloggers from all over the world are invited to share their ideas about Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Do you agree or disagree with Teddy’s POV? Please share your unique perspective!
There are three easy steps to join the Blog Hop:
1. Follow the instructions for submitting your entry using the linky provided below or at Everyday Gyaan — remember to copy and paste the link to your specific ‘comparison’ blog post, not just your blog, into the linky.
3. Be sure to read and comment on other bloggers’ posts in the hop. It’s a great way to get to know each other and expand our cyber-community of awesome writers and thinkers!
COMPARISON: “I SEE PATTERNS”
What does it mean to ‘compare’? A working definition seems like a good place to start the conversation, right? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary tells us this:
- 1 : to represent as similar: liken <shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? ~ Shakespeare>
- 2 a: to examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover resemblances or differences <compare your responses with the answers>
- b: to view in relation to <tall compared to me> <easy compared with the last test>
This story begins when Corinne, of Everyday Gyaan, asks a group of us to comment on a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
After a short discussion with my good friend, the Everyday Gyaan-ess, we realize our perceptions are pretty much opposite of each other on this subject — perfect recipe for a thought-provoking exchange. We wonder how others might react to the quote, too, and that’s when we come up with the idea of a blog hop!
I have to tell you, my first reaction is to agree with President Roosevelt’s assertion that ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ However, my initial response triggers, in my mind, a flood of exceptions to the rule. Ultimately, there are so many ‘exceptions’ that they appear to point to a different ‘rule’. Comparison and contrast are skills needed to perceive patterns, visually and experientially, which may enhance a person’s life in creative and practical ways.
As an artist, I use comparisons every day to add interest to my photos by looking for visual patterns wherever I go. There is a simple joy to be found in the acknowledgement of the natural order inherent in the world around me. Incorporating patterns into a photographic image invites the viewer to take some time looking at it. As Diane Ackerman says, “Pattern pleases us, rewards a mind seduced and yet exhausted by complexity. We crave pattern, and find it all around us, in petals, sand dunes, pine cones, contrails.” (An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain)
Let’s consider my photograph above, for example. You naturally notice and compare the size and shape of the repeating pattern of vertical elements. It happens automatically. You probably don’t even know you’re doing it, comparing the lamppost to the doorway, to the pedestrian, to the parking meter. We also tend to compare shadows and reflections of objects pictured in contrast to the appearance of the objects themselves. It’s fun for the brain to perform this unconscious mental juxtaposing of patterns and it has been shown to hold the interest of many viewers for a few moments longer than they otherwise might be interested. Their prolonged enjoyment of the artwork increases the likelihood I will gain a new customer as a result.
Speaking of sales and business, I also appreciate the opportunity to compare and contrast patterns as applied to more practical aspects of my life. The Business Dictionary defines ‘pattern’ as: “Consistent and recurring characteristic or trait that helps in the identification of a phenomenon or problem, and serves as an indicator or model for predicting its future behavior.” The more I understand recurring past patterns, the more control I have over my present and future success.
For instance, when I witness a particular business associate stretching the truth with a customer or client, I will not be shocked when he attempts something similar with me. I will, in fact, be prepared for such an outcome. This knowledge contributes to my feelings of safety and confidence about my ability to manage my life experiences in a positive manner, and encourages a joyful sense of assurance that most happenings are not as random as others often make them out to be. In contrast, many people won’t notice or acknowledge the recurring pattern of the lying associate’s past behavior. They may even exclaim later, “I can’t believe he did that!” And, I reply, “I can’t believe you’re surprised!”
We can all agree that comparing ourselves to our friends and neighbors in a self-deprecating way is a ‘thief of joy’. But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water! Seeing and appreciating patterns in our daily experience is not only a good thing, it’s unavoidable and contributes to empowered living. Instead of cursing comparisons, let’s learn to use them wisely.
What positive discoveries have you made in art or life through comparing and contrasting patterns? How has this improved the quality of your life? Do you have a favorite photo illustrating patterns to share? Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!
PS For those photographers who are not already hooked on patterns, you will be after you check out the eye candy in this tutorial from Digital Photography School Online: 33 Inspirational Images That Feature Patterns and Repetition.