I’ve been thinking about jealousy a little a lately, and how it skews perspective, and narrows focus so completely that even the object of our envy is unrecognizable to any realistic perspective.
I’ll give you an example.
This past Saturday I went into a store and bought two bags of candy and a puzzle. I promptly went home, poured both bags of chewy candy into an empty vase, left my phone in another room, turned on the air conditioning in my bedroom, took off my bra, put on a Netflix movie, and started that puzzle whilst dipping my hand into my candy vase every so often for a treat.
I don’t mean to brag, but my weekend sounds absolutely exceptional, wouldn’t you agree? It has everything I could want in a weekend, or at least everything that ten year old me wanted in a weekend.
Perhaps you even fill in a few details that I left out. You might assume that since I have money to burn on puzzles and candy I have few financial worries. Or you might assume that since my plan was to spend the day eating candy I had carefully adjusted my diet and exercise plans to accommodate this splurge. You probably also assumed I had no other important pressing obligations to attend to. And you might assume that I chose do all of those activities being of sound mind and body, filling up my weekend to the brim of funness.
So much of jealous is in the assuming. I’ll take a walk in the evenings sometimes and see these delightful homey scenes in living room or dining room windows. And I get filled with a certain sort of longing. They look like they’re having such fun. And I mentally fill in all the blanks from the TV shows I’ve seen.
Naturally they all like each other and have explicitly chosen to spend this time together. No one is in ill health, nor do they know of anyone intimately related to them who is suffering. They are free from all worries. They are all of like mind or open minded and they are having good, uplifting conversation.
And this is just from quickly walking by a house and seeing its occupants for perhaps fifteen seconds in total. But a glimpse that we build a fantasy on is never close to the reality of that moment.
My great weekend of eating candy and working on a puzzle? The reality is that I hate summer and it was ninety degrees in my apartment most of the time. There was no escape except to sit locked in my bedroom, because I was definitely not going outside. I was exhausted all weekend. Tired from the heat and tired because my arthritis has been more active this past week.
So I was grumpy, tired, in pain and then I went out to buy self-soothing things like candy, and distractions like puzzles. Reality always ruins jealousy.
Remember when you were a kid and you thought being an adult would be 100% totally awesome? No bedtime, you get your own place, you have cool sophisticated conversations, you get to buy whatever you want, you can do whatever you want!
And then you grew up. Oh boy. This is not what I was advertised. Suddenly as an adult you realize why you don’t see many adults in the bulk candy aisle without accompanying children.
I had that realization today when the sugar headache kicked in and the dentist told me I had a cavity. First cavity in over ten years, too. Jealousy misses results and consequences. It’s always the short view of a very long game.