29 November 2009

Compete or Complete?

Pic from here

Stephen recently lost a lot of weight from watching his diet and exercising. He had made a dramatic change to his lifestyle and now looks fighting fit. A couple of months ago, we met the former Staff Sergeant of the Commando Unit that he belonged to, when he was in the army. Oh yes, Stephen used to be a Commando with a red beret! Anyway, Staff Sergeant Seah stopped to chat with us, as we had our breakfast. He said he was happy to see that Stephen is keeping to a regular fitness regime. He only cautioned that it was necessary to “complete not compete”.

He is right. We hear of so many people who have dropped dead even before reaching 50 years! They push themselves to better their times, to get ahead of the one in front of them and, often, they accidentally beat the clock of life way before their time.

Those words played around in my mind for a while. I see that it is also an apt description to life. I know that many go about in a perpetual competition. They wake up each day with no inkling of what really matters. Their sole purpose is to compare and compete to win. They cannot wait to shout that their home is bigger. Their job pays more. Their spouse is better looking. Their car has a higher capacity. Even their continent is better! They are the ones that say such high faluting stuff like their mansion is just “a humble abode” or that their BMW is old because it’s last year’s model or that their holiday destination is pending because they can’t decide yet.

Life is a journey for us to complete. The competing is not going to change the fact that when we die, our journey is complete. If we spend all that time, living to compete with those around us, then we miss what is important.

I think that even before I met Staff Sergeant Seah, I already knew that in the race of life, I have to run to complete and not compete. Okay, I'm going to be running along now.


Kak Teh said...

Hi Estrelita, saw your comment from somewhere, followed the link and got here. Some interesting articles you have here! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that’s a pretty deep piece of reflection, and philosophical too. Now you can add “philosophical” to your list of what others say of you :)

Yes, I agree that it’s important to ‘complete’ what we set out to do. That was my message to “steadyaku” cos I thot he was onto something positive.

But I think competition is also important. I’m unaware of any civilization that has succeeded without competition. Competition exists in nature when gazelles outrun each other, so that (unfortunately) the weakest gets eaten. The future of the herd is dependent on the culling of the weak so that only the strong will breed and ensure its continuity. The free market is somewhat like that – open competition.

However, cut-throat over-competition is bad because it is devoid of the human values that distinguishes us from gazelles. When governments fail to regulate competition and allow unlimited competition, anarchy breaks out and it’s a dog-eat-dog world. The weak (and often the honest) get shafted. On the other hand, if the government controls competition too tightly, it stifles hard work and creativity e.g. under communism. Shades of this can be found in some societies today. People begin to stop working hard because they can depend on the protective hand of government for a handout. They won’t develop to their full potential.

So some competition is good. But not too much. The ability to strike the right balance is part of the reason why Liberals fight the Conservatives in Canada and the Republicans fight the Democrats in the US.

Thanks for a thought provoking piece. And all because of Staff Sergeant Seah! :)

Patricia said...

Hello dear,

Stephen has inspired me to get off my ass and get on my exerciser! And you've inspired me to complete what I set out to do in the first place: get fit and stay healthy for me :)

Richard Loh said...

A new thing to learn today. We are brought up to think only to compete, from school, sports and working life. Maybe we should start with a new word "completation" instead of competition...lol...

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Kak Teh, Same as you, I've discovered blogs that I totally enjoyed and continue to follow. I'll have a look through yours soon. Thanks for popping over. Come again!

Adirya, Philosophical, eh? Well, you certainly can write. There ain't no doubt about it. What's nice is you do it in a very interesting manner which is endearing. Totally appreciate your thoughts on this. I added you to my blog roll. :)

Pat dearest, Always faithful to my blog. With this gestre, you give me encouragement to keep on writing with your comments. Thank you for that, darling. :)

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Richard, That's quite a humble comment. So many of us are afraid to say that we've learnt anything new because it sort of sends a message that we aren't there yet. I've had a minor readjustment in my life after hearing this short but catchy phrase. Take care, my friend! :)

Antares said...

Why no photos of the new improved former commando Stephen Grosse? :-)
Full of surprises you are, Lita!

zorro said...

Sometimes we have to compete to complete, no? I have to see the new Stephen.