As we gear up for the March 28th retreat in Ronda, and since it was women’s day yesterday, i got to thinking about what it means to be a man, and the subject of competition came up right away.
i’m not much of a real man. I lost my taste for competition many years ago, and don’t think i ever really had any in the first place. My earliest memory is backing out of a race between me and some other boy who also missed the church picnic the day before, because i just couldn’t see the point in trying to out run him for a bag of popcorn, when we could just share it together in the shade.
my hesitance was greeted with alarm, disappointment and even irritation. If I recall correctly, I never did race him to the other end of the field and back, but instead was jerked away from the ad hoc event and driven hastily home, where probably i was scolded for not seeing the necessity of trying to beat another kid there and back again.
i used to play golf, but felt bad for myself when i lost, and bad for the other guy when i won. i remember one competition, how sad was my opponent, and how deeply ashamed he seemed to hang in his lover’s arms afterward. i even offered during the tournament that, ‘hey, you can win if you want,’ but they said i couldn’t do that, either.
then i met her, Dr. Janine Benyus, a TIME hero of the environment, and another of those women who came to me when i needed them most. one day we talked at the conference in riyadh that i had invited her to, along with a few others, including Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and others like them, as a gift to to my Saudi hosts. i took risks in those days to create something beautiful, but i wasn’t competing, even though it was an event about competition.
she said there are seven relationships in nature, or maybe it was eight, but none of them are competitive. i forget what the seven were, or are, but she said nature has a sense of the energy costs of competition, and so naturally avoids it. we humans don’t have that sense, and in our competition we take more and more, and yet other then depression, anxiety, sickness, environmental destruction and despair, i have no idea what we are winning.