It is a holiday for my children (my son who is 13 and my daughter who is 9) and they are playing with each other as I type this. A little while ago, she hit him playfully. He hit her back (not hard enough to hurt--just a small tap). She hit him back again. He hit her back. The volley of taps continued.
Finally, my daughter, tired of the game said "I will hit you once, then you hit me and we will stop. Then we are EQUAL." Of course neither was willing to stop and the tapping continued till the time I intervened and put an end to it. (Being an experienced parent who has gone through it all so many times, I knew that it would lead to a fight had I not)
It set me thinking, as to how many times we try to do this 'we're equal' business as adults. If a neighbour sends over a home-cooked dish, we feel a need to immediately return the favour. If we have called up a good friend thrice and they have not taken the effort to initiate subsequent contact, we do not call back thinking "It is their turn. Why should I be the one to call all the time?" If someone has given us a few really lovely gifts, out of genuine love and affection, we immediately feel a need to reciprocate and buy them something back. We consciously or sub-consciously always feel a need 'to be equal'.
Trying to be 'equal' is a never ending process. It goes on and on. At times, it breaks relationships.At times, it leads to misunderstandings. At times, it creates barriers where there ought to be none. The circle continues round and round.
Of course, if you feel like reciprocating expressed love, there really isn't a problem. All I am saying is that the need to 'compete' and 'be one up' (even if it is to reciprocate a gift given) is what needs to be thought about.
If we, for a moment, put our egos aside, if we learn to be gracious in our acceptance, if we learn to let go a little bit and express our love a little more, if we give in, if we put ourselves in the other person's shoes, if we give a knock on the head to our big 'I' and change it into a small 'i' , then I surely think that there would be less discord, more harmony, more happiness, more peace and above all a lot more love.
Life is indeed so short. So very unpredictable too. By trying to 'be equal' one is only eating into time that should be spent in joy.
So let go and let it be.It really isn't that big a deal as our deluded egos imagine it to be.
Think about it.