We are on page 192. Today's miniature teaches about how "there is always a bigger flea." To make his point, Aitken uses a pair of writers, Robert Louis Stevens and Leo Tolstoy, and a pair of short stories, "The Touchstone" and "How Much Land Does a Man Need?". Having not read either, I can not speak to the merits of his comparison as to which writer was the "bigger flea".
That is not the point. On the surface, Aitken does a great job of presenting first RLS as a writer who "informs my very life." Strong praise indeed. Then he goes on to introduce LT and note Chekhov's proclamation that LT's short story is "the best short story ever written." Aitken's writing here is masterful. He places these two writer next to each other and imagines there relationship.
With more reflection, we see that comparison and our desire to know or be the "bigger flea" is a part of the human spirit. If we hold these comparisons lightly, recognizing the ephemeral nature of the sense of separation that allows comparisons, the human spirit can be light. If we put too much energy in comparisons, in who's the bigger flea, then the human spirit becomes needy, heavy, busy with judgments.
Chose to be light. See the ephemeral nature of separation. Be kind to yourself.
I'd like to point you to Lucy Loomis, a photographer, who has posted to Flickr a set of her visit to Dan Santos' woodworking shop. I don't know either of these people yet their sharing has inspired me. We will see what develops. Here is a link to the set and a sample.
Photo by Lucy Lommis