Last week we took our kids bowling. We rented two lanes, side by side. Scott and I were on one lane, and four kids were on the other, with the fifth child orbiting.
Scott typed in everyone’s name on the computer and each child oo-ed and aah-ed as they saw their name appear in the neon screens above us. How exciting! Bowling is so fun! We chose our balls and began our game.
Everything started out just fine. We had some unconventional positions, some sliding, some ball-bouncing, a few spares, a couple strikes. The scores started to add up.
Well, some of them did.
It soon became apparent to one of my children (who will from this point on will be referred to as the Star of the Story) that she was not improving. In fact, her siblings were surpassing her. Including her younger siblings.
By the time we were on the ninth frame, the Star of the Story was not having fun at all. And each time she bowled she became more and more emotionally discombobulated. Then came the second-to-lowest moment: In an effort to improve her score she threw (and I mean threw) her ball so hard that it catapulted out of her lane, over the gutter and into ours, knocking down the pins in the middle of my turn. She was devastated and embarrassed.
We managed to cheer her up a bit, at least so that she would not give up. On her final turn she picked up her ball with renewed determination. She stepped forward, aimed, and with all her might flung the ball across the polished hardwoods where it bounced, bounced, bounced and landed in the next lane. Again.
What happened next?
The Star of the Story was in tears, two others crying for completely unrelated reasons, one was indifferent, and one was supremely happy because she had broken 100, beating everyone including me and, dare I say, Scott.
Mercifully, though, the game was over, and we got outta there.
Comparison is the thief of happiness, a wise woman once told me. Had there not been a screen up there telling us everyone’s score, the Star of the Story would have had a great time. Her attitude would have radiated to everyone else and by the end everyone would have been laughing. Without the numbers I believe she would have found it hilariously funny that her ball went rogue. In fact, the others probably would have tried to get theirs to do the same thing.
It took a full hour and a trip to Chick-Fil-A before the Star of the Story could finally see the humor in what had happened. We all agreed that next time we go bowling she would most likely be the first one to beat her previous score, where as Little Miss 106 may have more of a challenge.
There are a lot of numbers out there that we measure ourselves by, which is, when you think about it, pretty silly.
If the Star of the Story can learn how to lose and start again using her Own Best as her gauge, then she will find much happiness in her life, since joy is not found in conquering others as much as it is in conquering yourself.
In the end, she is the star to no one’s story but her own.
Photo credit: Badger Explosion, April 18, 1943, Nevada test sight by Federal Government of the United States [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons