With nothing to do during these blistering Midwestern blizzards but alternate between social media and Netflix reruns, I’ve recently found myself wallowing in a pathetic sea of envy. My computer and television screens do nothing but taunt me with images of wonderful, magical things that belong to other people. It’s stupid, I know, to let such things outshine my humble blessings but I have to tell you guys – when cabin fever shrinks my brain I start focusing on trivial nothings and if there’s one thing I know it’s that the big green monster is queen of trivial nothings.
Should I care that Jack just moved into a brand spanking new house, complete with impeccable wainscoting and a mudroom I’d sacrifice Twitter for (sorry, Twitter) or that Jill’s kids are always dressed like miniature fashion models even on nondescript Saturday afternoons? No, I shouldn’t. But I am. I’m tickled they have nice things (they are my friends, after all). It’s just that I want nice things too.
You’re probably thinking one of two things right now. Possibility #1: Quit complaining, Kara, you have plenty of nice things. Possibility #2: Is this post going somewhere or can I quit reading now? The answers to which, by the way, go something like this: (#1) I know, I know, but there’s nothing logical about jealousy. (#2) I’m not sure yet. Probably not, so the liberty is yours.
Glennon Doyle Melton is one of my favorite bloggers (don’t even get me started on the things I envy about her, starting with the way she owns all the words) and she has this to say about the big green monster: “We’re only envious of those already doing what we were made to do. Envy is a giant, flashing, arrow pointing us toward our destiny. Don’t be afraid of your envy and deny it; be curious about your envy and follow it.” (I told you, the girl’s got mad skills.)
This is a theory I can get behind. If somebody’s got something I want, why not channel my jealousy towards motivation instead of resentment? That seems a lot more constructive than what I’ve been doing. (Let me also be the first to point out that this is not a universally applicable rule. For instance, this post does not give you permission to sweep in and steal your best friend’s boyfriend just because he’s looking attractive and you’re feeling covetous.)
All I’m saying is that instead of feeling sorry for myself because my kids are dressed in tarnished onesies while yours are rocking name brand kicks, maybe I can … you know … let the nice stuff in their closet see daylight for a change. Or instead of stifling snarky comments about photos of someone’s one-hundredth island vacation this winter, I can shut my mouth and start saving for my own tropical getaway. Those aren’t such a crazy ideas, are they? Difficult, perhaps, but doable.
If Moses would’ve checked with Miss Glennon before broadcasting the Ten Commandments from the peak of Mt. Sinai I think she would’ve suggested one minor change to the final rule. Don’t ask humans to stop feeling jealous; that’s about as productive as asking them to stop feeling happy or sad. Instead, ask them to do something about that jealousy. Potential revision, Moses (I’m sure the big guy won’t mind):
Thou shall use envy as incentive to improve, not as reason to gorge thy self-pity in copious amounts of Girl Scout cookies.