Recently, a very brilliant artist we know was disheartened by her professional life, comparing herself to other artists who were getting big commissions. “Comparison is violence” I said. “I read something to that effect recently; I can’t remember where.” My friend stopped short. “That’s GREAT. You’re right!” and went online to search.
The equation of comparison and violence is definitely in the zeitgeist. Oprah tweeted “Comparison is violence against the self”, quoting inspirational speaker Lyanla Vanzant. Theater artist Taylor Mac’s new tour is called Comparison is Violence, and his video, below, shows why.
I finally found my source in New York Times profile of once notoriously temperamental actor Mandy Patinkin. His words are well worth reading to the end.
“If you ask me, ‘You’re 60, what’s one of the best things you’ve picked up?’ Two things I would say.
One is stop trying to be Superman. Allow yourself to make mistakes and serve the team. I spent so many of my younger days thinking it had to be about me, you had to hear me, you had to see me. The other thing is, and it’s a double-edged sword because I live to work, I love it, is that all my life, no matter what happened, I wanted to capitalize on it, turn it into something to move me forward, make my career better. Where do I need to go? As opposed to ‘Are you even for one second where you are? Are you seeing anything you’re doing?’
“I don’t want this moment to end. I don’t want this day to end. I was tired yesterday, I didn’t want it to end. I want every joy of every day and every struggle of every day. I always say to Kathryn: ‘How could I not know some of these things when I was younger? I see other people who are younger, and they get certain opportunities, and they don’t struggle.’ And she goes back to a standard phrase in our family, which is ‘Comparison leads to violence.’ ”
Comparison leds to violence.
Check out secs .27 to 1:03. of Taylor Mac’s on why Comparison is Violence (link here).