I have learned to think of competition as a cooperative event. It is not an event to show dominance over others (or to be dominated by others), but as a way to examine myself to find areas where I can improve. This improvement is not just of the skills of the sport, but of my character. For example I have never been good at pacing myself in a long race and have worked for years to improve on that. Pacing is not really a skill but a characteristic of the person; it is the control of emotions. At the DVOA meet at Fair Hill I finally demonstrated (to myself) I have overcome my lack of control when I ran a good race to finish the long course.
I now see the competitor as a helper and not as an adversary. The other people in the race are there to help me achieve my goals, as I am there to help them. For example, during the past summer I ran several local sprint events. Because Jon Torrence and Nadim were also running I was able to run faster than I would have without them. I did not run next to them, but their presence created an atmosphere of excitement and an atmosphere expectation. I knew they would run faster and I wanted to be like them, so I tried to run fast.
At races I now try hard not to look at the results. I learned that focusing on the results (what place did I get?) distracts me from focusing on improvement (did I achieve my goals today?). An experienced person will know how good his performance was without the cold measurement of the result list.
I have not always had the best material success, results, as I could have had, but I have success and I enjoy the experience much more now.
Orienteering for Paula and I has been a wonderful hobby on many levels--competitive, friendship, travel, etc. We can travel and do the usual touristy things, but we can also get out into the country side and through orienteering get deeply in touch with nature. One of the big things is that we have made friends all over the world. Some have babies and kids, some get married, some pass away. Lately, one was diagnosed with a very serious illness, so we have done our best to be there for them.
I hope that you decide to continue with orienteering at some level as it does have a lot to offer.
On a related note, I was just reading an Outside magazine article on some doctors who traveled to Nepal to do cataract surgery on some villagers and to do a little mountain climbing. Looked very rewarding!