Comparison, joy and being overtaken by Elton John

WISDOM: Celebrities like Elton John may have more talent or money, but the only person you should compare yourself to is yourself. Picture: James Wiltshire
WISDOM: Celebrities like Elton John may have more talent or money, but the only person you should compare yourself to is yourself. Picture: James Wiltshire

OK, so last week you'd recall I couldn't stand up for very long as I had just had a stomach operation from laughing at a joke that - given it gave me a stomach hernia - really wasn't that funny.

This all meant that to even walk from the bedroom to the bathroom was a major victory.

Sitting down all day is pretty boring. But when you're sick, sitting down is better than laying down because laying down leads to falling asleep. Which means you can't sleep at night - the last thing you want when you are sick.

Then I remembered that you can sit down while you drive.

So last Wednesday, given that I was convalescing at a house not far from beautiful Rutherglen in north-east Victoria, I decided to go for a short drive.

I discovered very quickly that I had to drive slowly or my stomach was in agony and I was back to square one.

Anyway, as I drove along the road to Rutherglen at a snail's pace, whose car do you think overtook me and left me in their wake ... like a candle in the wind?

You guessed it - Sir Elton! Elton John, himself! At least, I think was him.

You see, Elton John had a concert in the area that very night.

I thought it seemed strange that a big, expensive white Cadillac-looking car would be travelling through at four o'clock in the afternoon. But he's got to get to his own show too, you know.

"But his concert didn't start until 7pm ... and it can't start without him," I hear you muse. Yes - but I've heard that successful people are always early.

I don't know if that's true, by the way, given I'm always late. But if it is true, then, it stands to reason that very successful people are probably very early - and Elton John is very successful.

I rang a friend who went to the concert and caught a glimpse of Elton's car leaving afterwards and it matched the one I saw.

I may be mistaken ... but maybe, once upon a time, I got overtaken on a country road by a fancy car with Elton John as a passenger.

It wouldn't do well for my ego to compare myself to Elton John.

Who can play the piano better? Elton John.

Who can write better songs? Even though he has never written the lyrics and only the music, the answer is still Elton John.

Who can sing better? At 72, his voice is croaky, but still, I think it's Elton John.

Who has more money? I know in Your Song he sings "I don't have much money" but today he's worth half a billion.

My bank account is too low for zero, so I guess he trounces me in that department too.

And I'm still sitting all day and night after my surgery. I'm Still Standing sang Elton John that night. Don't go breaking my heart!

But seriously, if we compare ourselves to others - especially the very successful - life will be one big disappointment after another.

The huge downside of the lifestyles of the rich and famous being so heavily reported is that our ordinary lives will always languish far behind their seemingly glorious lives.

Perhaps that's why the sins, scandals and rehab visits of the stars are also such big news. Maybe we're jealous.

It's never a good idea to compare yourself to everyone else.

Imagine that you were a one in a million. That's all good and fine in Rutherglen, but if you live in Melbourne or Sydney and you're one in a million, you're only one in five.

The best person to compare yourself with is you. Compare yourself to who you were last year, or last month, or even just yesterday.

My personal favourite definition of happiness is still the shortest definition I've ever heard: "Progress".

Compare yourself with yourself. It's the only way to know if you're getting better. And even if you fail, it's unlikely you'll get jealous.

Twitter: @frbrendanelee