When I was a kid, my mom got my brothers and me to entertain ourselves through arts and crafts. One year she bought us latch hook kits.
My first project was a picture of Scooter from the Muppets, which she turned into a pillow. I quickly moved on to a picture of Linus. I can't remember what my brother Jr.'s project was, but I do remember that what began as a fun activity for the 4 of us turned into a fierce competition between him and me.
My brothers and I had this unspoken code of ethics. If there were a box of 12 Fudgesicles, we were each allotted 3. Once my brother Romeo was looking for something to eat and my mom told him that there was a Fudgesicle in the freezer. He had already eaten his share so he didn't take it. He knew better. She was confused, though.
When someone left the room, their seat was saved. This is because whoever was closest to the phone had to answer it and hunt my dad down, because it was almost always for him. We would pull in every chair possible into the TV room to avoid sitting next to that phone.
Of the 4 of us, Jr. was the most law-abiding. He never cursed. He followed all the rules. He never lied or cheated. Unless he was competing against me in something like latch-hooking.
As I reached the end of my Linus project, I ran out of yarn. Which really pissed me off. What kind of project lacks the necessary supplies to complete it? I thought it was only fair that he stop working on his rug until I bought more yarn. Since I'm the oldest, I made up and enforced most of the rules, so I took his latch hook. He did not protest because this was consistent with his sense of justice, too.
But he wanted to win so badly that he secretly worked on his project without the latch hook. Because you don't need it if you're really determined. He quickly gave himself away though with his guilty laughter, so he didn't get very far. Still, I took his rug from him, just to be safe.
I don't even remember who won. He probably does, though. But we both remember how fun it was to compete against each other--in that instance, at least.
I realize that this fiercely competitive attitude is not the norm. Yet it still surprises me when people don't feel the same way. I don't understand why my colleagues don't rush to turn in their paper work first. Or why some players don't play in tournaments or leagues because they don't like the pressure. Or why more people don't read my posts about sacrificing my health for the sake of my team.
It's not that I have to win. I often play in leagues above my level, so I lose quite a bit. It's more about being fully engaged in whatever I'm doing. Competition forces me to do this, but it's really more about competing with myself. That's why I do things like spend 4 months knitting a dress for my niece by Christmas.
I'm so proud of that dress that I thought I'd show you a picture of it, even though it is only tangentially related to this post.