Envy leaves me cold. What do I envy? Not material things. More clarity. I envy people who knew what they wanted to do at 12 years old and went on as adults to make it a career. I envy those who have never suffered from depression or anxiety or lack of belief in themselves. I envy the way Nature doesn’t have to worry about its next move; she simply knows where to step. The next step. The next right step.
Envy can be paralyzing. Comparing my insides to someone else’s outside. Maybe that’s a form of envy. What about the competitive edge in sports? Envy? I read that Tiger Woods was throwing his golf clubs in anger right before he left the last tournament; he was way down the list as a finalist. Was that envy? Not healthy competitive nature to throw metal objects in uncontrolled anger. Even if it is directed at the self. I remember those days in high school and college sports. So closely identified with athleticism and winning that I soon forgot how to lose. I’m glad to be away from all that.
Envy. Is it green or red? I’m thinking more red. Is envy a form of self-hate, anger, insecurity, lack of self-esteem. I feel envious when I’m not doing as well as I’d like to be doing. Usually when I’m more down than up. When I’m doing well, I don’t care what others are doing or what they think; I feel like I’m on the right path for me. When I lose my way, those are the times I am more apt to feel envy.
I used to be insanely jealous in relationships. I clung to them to feel safe. My whole identity was wrapped up in friendships, attachments, partnerships with other people. People that sometimes weren’t good for me. I had to do a lot of work to let that go. When I learned more about who I was, I let go of what I thought I had to be in order to be loved. Does that make sense? Jealousy is another emotion that takes us out of ourselves, away from core goodness. I do believe that we all start out as good people. Things happen along the way that change us. Sometimes those changes are irreversible. And we walk around carrying envy.
The things we carry. Envy, greed, jealousy, hate, rage. Love, kindness, gratitude, generosity, warmth. I’d rather focus on the glass half full. What changed me? Hard work. Forgiving myself. Forgiving others. Reconnecting with people. And looking at my own faults, so I could more readily accept the faults of others.
I want to say envy is something I don’t experience. But I do. The last month I have envied those who are not grieving or feeling loss. I have envied those whose lives seem happy and well on track. Something will happen in life — a death, or the end of an important relationship, an illness, or the loss of a job — and an old tape is triggered. It taps at the brain, scrapes at the edges of self-worth.
Luckily, the self is connected to the wide and deep tree roots on the ash in the front yard. Self is connected to last night’s July sunset backlighting fishermen in a canoe; the outdoor orchestra playing in the band shell by a glacial lake; sweating and geocaching through the woods with Liz; the spiderwort, evening primrose, or red pepper growing in pots on the deck.
Self is connected to the purple finch at the feeder, the Lake Harriet Lake Creature, the ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s, the fact that yesterday marked the beginning of another year I may walk this Earth. All good things come to pass if we let them in. Sometimes that’s not easy and goodness is blocked. Envy follows.
Note to red Ravine Readers: This Writing Practice is related to the Topic of Envy posted for the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine. For background and inspiration about Envy, read the essay Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin) and the piece The Case of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez: Is It Envy Or Earned?
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is a widespread assumption that Envy is an emotion. Other posts that might help jog the memory when writing about tough or secretive emotions are Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings and WRITING TOPIC – EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY.
To enter the ENVY contest and learn how to participate, go to the Contest Submission Guidelines. There is no fee to enter. You will be competing for an Amazon Kindle and a chance to have your creative work featured in a groundbreaking new documentary film. Deadline is August 15th!