Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I can do anything better than you I can't.

If you ask me what the best TV show of all time is I will probably say The Wire, and next in line is Six Feet Under, but my recent re-acquaintance with M*A*S*H*during my bout with the Swine flu reminded me of what an insightful and brilliant show M*A*S*H* was.

I used to watch it all the time as a kid but only for the humor. As an adult, I get it. I get the messages the writers were trying to send about war and the human condition.

I have been mulling this line said to Hawkeye Peirce by Col. Ptter, around in my head for days:

"The only (wo)man I have to be better than is the (wo)man I am right now."

It's just one of many classic lines from the show. I guess I keep hearing it over and over in my head because most days I think I'm trying to be a better person for family and community, but the truth is, I am still comparing myself to my friends, schoolmates, co-bloggers neighbors and the beautiful woman I saw on the street.

I keep, secretly and quietly, insisting to myself that if I'm not as good as X than I'm not doing 'it' right. Whatever 'it' is.

The worst part is that those thoughts do nothing to make me feel more confident. They do nothing to inspire me to be better at whatever it is I'm good at.

Those thoughts discourage me and make me want to give up.

I just don't know how to make them stop.

Maybe I'll find the answer in another episode of M*A*S*H*.

Stay tuned.


  1. I hate M*A*S*H. My dad was in war. Mash war (except in rare circumstances) was all about fun hi-jinks, hangovers, and mysterious operations that didn't involve any blood (as opposed to the movie, which I saw first, and probably cemented my feelings for the series, which was drenched in blood.) But I'm annoying and cantankerous.

  2. it used humor to make some very important points. give it a go.

    and i'm cantankerous.

  3. Yep, MASH used humor to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) make a lot of very shrewd points about society and about war. Great stuff.

    And yes, there is nothing beneficial about comparing yourself to others (aka, competition). It will always eat away at you like that. The trick is to find a way to set goals which aren't comparative. It can be a difficult task, as we are by nature very comparative, but is an important step in emotional maturity (something I'm trying to master...).

  4. Today I was cleaning the house and turned on BonJovi. I think his music his incredibly spiritual. The song I was listening to is "Welcome to Where Ever You Are".

    Here's my favorite line:

    "Welcome to wherever you are
    This is your life; you made it this far
    Welcome, you gotta believe
    Right here, right now you're exactly where you're supposed to be
    Be who you want to be, be who you are, Everyone's a hero, everyone's a star

    I mention this because I have been there comparing myself to others...time and time again. Today, though, this is me... this is who I am... and the rest doesn't matter. Today, I get it... tomorrow it might come back and I might start comparing, but these moments make life a bit easier.

    Good luck and keep us posted!

  5. Terrific post Melanie. And what a great quote! Sadly though, I don’t think you will be able to make it stop – the comparing. It is part and parcel to our human existence. I’m horrible at the comparison thing too, internally bemoaning the fact that I’m not as smart, or ambitious, or talented as so and so. It seems to me that someone who can say “The only (wo)man I have to be better than is the (wo)man I am right now” is someone who, through rigorous self assessment, has become confident about what they want out of life. The comparisons are inevitable, but become less painful if I really, truly know what gives me joy, and am moving forward on the road (however long) that takes me there.

    Like derekstaff points out to, there is a relationship between comparing and “competing”, but I don’t think that the two are one and the same. They just tend to be, unfortunately. Goals, seem to be, by nature, comparative. It’s our motivation for them that we need to check.

  6. i just noticed i didn't give this a title when i published it. there's one now and i hope in 'sticks' in your head all day long cos it's in mine.


    great thoughts all and thanks for stopping by with words of encouragement.

  7. Ok, first of all, I love M.A.S.H. I miss the days of t.v. that was entertaining but secretly was teaching you an important lesson (All in the Family, anyone?). Anyway, Hawkeye is the source of all wisdom and light.

    I share your problem with comparison/competition. I don't know how to stop it, so I try to use it to make myself better but in a healthy way. It's probably a fool's errand, but I like to think that I can grow from this fault of mine.

  8. (Ever listened to the lyrics to the M*S*S*H theme song? that's when I first got the notion that the show was more than just a farce.)

    oh... and, yep. me too. highly wired for unfair comparisons.

    for me I try to keep this part of Desiderata:
    "If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain or bitter,
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. "

    (the operative word being "TRY")

  9. Interesting you mention All in the Family, Eris. That's the first show which came time mind when M described her evolved appreciation for the show. I hated AitF as a child, because it just seemed like a lot of mean-spirited shouting. Now I get the satire.

    I think we're all "wired" for comparison/competition. It's part of the "natural man" we're supposed to be defeating.

    G, the Desiderata is good. But the Deteriorata is much better.

    (everyone should google it and find an audio file to listen to. It's hilarious!)

  10. "Sadly though, I don’t think you will be able to make it stop "–

    *les*, i count on you to have all of the right and inspiring answers. the above quote is not helpful :)

    eris, i think hawkeye and potter were the source of all knowing and light on that show. and i should find all in the family on the tv and give it ago wiht my new adult brain.

    maybe i will find the answer there?

    g, why do you prefer that i post here? well, would you like me to post the housekeeping post here? just for yoU?

    sunshine, did you sing that song all day?

  11. I have no answers. I only take comfort in knowing I'm not the only one comparing myself to others in impossible and unfair ways as though I'm intent on making myself come up short.

  12. yes I did, thank you very much! My Dad played Frank years ago and he practiced that song... a lot! It's a funny song, and so true to this post!

  13. After thinking what it was about MASH I didn't like, and thinking about all the thinks I DID like, I've narrowed my hate down to the laugh track. Great writing, great acting, lousy laugh track.

  14. genie, i'm with you on the laugh track. i won't watch a show with one. they're awful.

  15. Eris, i'm comparing and competing against you right now.

    have you done another tri in the last month?

  16. m: June 27th. It rocked. I did not.

    True story - the announcer "#178, Eris, is just leaving the transition area for her run. Good luck, Eris! .... And we have our first finisher!" No lie.

    But I knocked 37 minutes off my time, so if we're not competing against others, then it was a screaming success.

  17. Way to go, Eris! That's all that should matter in these things, our own efforts.

    I completely agree on the laugh tracks. I can't believe it took until just recently for the entertainment industry to realize that laugh tracks kill the humor.

  18. First, M*A*S*H got kudos from even Korean War medical personnel, pointed out on the Anniversary specials. It did switch gears from hi-jinks into more serious themes as time went on, but some seriousness was always there. And, there was blood all along the way...

    Mel, I don't know WHY you feel down on yourself. You seem to have a lot together as is.

    -Mike H.

  19. hey mike thanks for stopping by and thanks for the kind words.

    i really should do a post on self esteem on fmh. it's just a hard subject to write about without asking for a beating from trolls.


    i am together. i'm a happy person. i have no complaints. i just wish i was 'better' than i am. more together. like ________.

  20. If you want a TV show that is entertaining and deeper at the same time, I can't stop raving about Being Human. And it's just so not like me - I mean, a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost, sharing a house in Bristol? Not my thing at all. But wow. Loved it.

  21. "a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost, sharing a house in Bristol?"

    sounds like an opener to a joke.

  22. I like MASH as well - the tv show and the movie (very different).

    I will admit, however, that it's tainted for me - I read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. One of the minor characters was obsessed with MASH and watched it non-stop (impacting their personal/social life). Not a passing interest or even appreciation, but an obsession/compulsion. I could see how the show could do that...ever since reading the novel, that's what I think of when I flip past MASH.

    I love six feet under as well, btw.

    I have no advice for comparing yourself to who you want to be. Self-acceptance is a tough thing.


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