I’m just going to come out and say it, I enjoy the Fast & Furious movies.
Initially, I gave it a pass, until I watched the first one during a holiday, a few years ago.
Maybe it was the relaxed atmosphere that moved my perception towards a more receptive place for investigating that pop-culture phenomenon.
And I enjoyed so much, I went on a mission to watch them all.

Only once did I engage in a futile attempt to justify watching what a colleague called “mindless drivel!”
There I was, I launched into the defense by providing solid evidence of how I enjoyed studying the literary greats at university.
Oh yes, when called upon, I could easily become an advocate for the great classic writers and poets hailing from previous generations.

But one question pushed itself to the forefront of my consciousness, “why am I even comparing my likes, and enjoyment with that of someone who doesn’t care, what I like, or not?”
Pretty soon I understood that the movie franchise we were discussing features quite a few parallels to how we often compare ourselves to others!

So indulge me regarding a few frivolous observations not intended as being much more than entertainment with a few potential snippets of truth thrown in!

1. There’s a lot of these movies! And you know they are tough to ignore!

Quite a few Fast & Furious outings made it to the big screen.
Just when you thought the hype had died down, another one pops up.
You see the adverts everywhere!
Merchandise is in abundance!
The toy car replicas flooded the shelves of your local supermarket.
Eager collectors fuelled the demand for these 4-wheeled treasures!
Those who weren’t fans could choose to skip the adverts, trailers, and merchandise, but still had a tough time not noticing it altogether.

That forms the first part of the analogy.
With Earth’s human population clocking in at over 7 billion, you will inevitably notice other people!
Even though you might constantly remind yourself, not to compare yourself with other people, it becomes increasingly difficult in modern times.
When you stand in a queue behind other shoppers, you’re going to notice whether they are taller, or shorter than you.
You will notice a few hundred other things as well.
If not consciously all the time, you do form perspectives based upon your observations.
This doesn’t mean that you always process the comparisons in a certain manner, but they will happen!
That’s just how it is.

2. They are loud and flashy, and maybe you’re not!

The Fast & Furious franchise engineered a product that appeals to millions of fans.
The characters, cars, stunts, costumes, and music is over-the-top.

When do you compare yourself to your neighbor?
Not when he calls you and tells you he is working on a sales report just before midnight?
You watch him pull up in a new sporty car, and that’s where the comparisons, and envy kicks in.
Do you compare yourself with the tall, slim person in the gym, or does the tall, slim and seemingly ever-confident person grab your attention?
That one who knows exactly what to do, without displaying an ounce of social awkwardness.
That’s one of the comparisons that convinces you that you’ve come up short!
And sadly enough— there can be dozens!

Do you compare yourself with a colleague who works extremely hard?
Or, do you compare yourself with them the minute they are promoted?
It often requires a flashy display or visible event that triggers a “comparison-moment!”

Those cars that defy gravity aren’t real!

As enjoyable as the “mindless entertainment” might be, I reckon we do know it’s not “real!”

But how about your neighbor, the one with the flashy sportscar?
That’s real, and it shows me I’m losing out!

But hang on, “Reality is deceiving!”

You have undoubtedly decided the neighbor’s car is real.
But many pieces of the puzzle connect to that reality.

Can he pay for it?
Does that car make him happy all day long?
How many hours did he need to put in at the office to reach a point where he could drive around in that car?
Does he get the time to truly enjoy that new toy?
Is he tired of it already?
Is it everything he expected?
Is he already looking at getting another one, because the car isn’t really what he needs in his life?

I know, many of us would enjoy being in a position to be wealthy enough to say, “I would like to try out the reality of purchasing whatever I see!”

However, if you haven’t won the lotto yet, there’s still one question that begs to be asked:
“Do you envy the trappings of wealth, or do you think you might be longing for the happiness and fulfillment that seemingly accompanies it?”

Be honest, if you could choose between the Fast & Furious lifestyle and guaranteed happiness, which would you choose?
You have one shot!
And the genie is getting impatient!
One is guaranteed, and the other only promises to dump you smack in the middle of the action, where you might end up realizing it isn’t all that it advertised?
Tough one? Maybe not?

3. Not everyone at the races has a fancy car, chances are good you’re also a spectator!

Some don’t even have cars!

Next time you watch the movies, take a look at the groupies.
There’s often a crowd that makes it all seem larger than life!
Look at the fans, supporters— wannabees!
Not everyone can be the Alpha Hero!
But I’m pretty sure many of them would’ve liked to give it a shot!

Have you ever considered that many people might be looking at you, right now and perceiving your achievements as some form of reference for what they would like to accomplish in life?
That’s just how we are wired, we like to look “upstream,” towards improvement and being better than we were.
Which is fine— but in the process, we forget what “downstream” was like!

Maybe you’re not that guy who flexes his monumental triceps while holding the steering wheel.
But if you managed to make it to the races, at least have some fun!

Then there’s always that one last section of the analogy I keep in reserve, for myself— whenever I feel I’m not making the grade:

4. You don’t want to absorb all that drama for the brief moment of glory before the credits roll!

Are you fine with rolling a car, getting punched in the face, incarcerated, dragged around, being shot at?

Sometimes I just downright thankful I didn’t end up in that movie!
And you’re also “‘ok” if you didn’t!