It’s easy for him, he has a trust fund. It’s easy for her, she doesn’t have a newborn.

It’s easy for her, she has a massive Twitter following.

It’s easy for him, he’s backed by the industry’s SUPERSTAR.

It’s easy for him, he has the Midas touch.

It’s easy for her, she has a perfect body.

It’s easy for him, he has the perfect marriage.

No. It’s not.

That trust fund may come with strings that feel like shackles. That childlessness may come with deep sadness. That marriage may be shrouded in mistrust. That backing may come with a sense of unworthiness. That Twitter following may come with years of hard work and untold costs. That perfect body may come with self-loathing. That “charmed life” may come with alcohol or drugs or insomnia.

Or not. You just don’t know.

Many years ago, I was sitting at the dining room table with my parents, unsuccessfully sniffing back the tears precipitated by an unrequited crush on a boy whose name I’ve long forgotten. They invited me to clear every last injustice bruising my teenaged heart. I remember their eyes brimming with compassion and understanding. When my tears resolved to sobs, I turned my thoughts to them. These two holding my sadness lightly and lovingly. And within an instant, every last trial that they’ve endured in their lives, too many and personal to share here, flooded into my heart.

How can I be so selfish? How can I be so insensitive? The boy will be meaningless in a matter of days. THEY are the ones who have endured real pain. Real loss. Real sadness. Mine is hormonally-derived horseshit.

Which is what I said. To which, my father reached across the table and took my hand in his large and calloused fingers and said: “Kid? It’s all relative.”

Impossible to wrap my head around at the time, but it was his enduring truth.

It’s all relative.

Yes.

Pain is relative. Ease is relative.

When next you meet someone and find yourself reciting the “it’s easy for them” story, take pause.

You don’t know what their fight has been. What demons they’ve wrestled to show up. Which parts have been shut down so that others may thrive.

No. You don’t know. No one really does.

Try this:

With your big beautiful brain and massive capacity for creativity, imagine that another’s apparent ease has come at a price. Will you dare to hold them with your infinite supply of kindness, empathy and compassion, diffusing the stifling toxicity that makes you feel so small?

And then will you trek down to your heart and listen from there? What is it that you are coveting in their story? That desire, right there, is your destination. Set your course for it. Make it happen, in gratitude for the clarity.

Remembering that everything is relative can keep smallness in check and give you a big liberating perspective. It can help you create a new story. A better story. YOUR story.

 

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