Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And the Fun Continues

Don't you wish you had some wine at this party?

For those new to the week, the Matron is up to her eyeballs in introspection. Be very, very glad that you do not live with her.

Yesterday, the Matron acknowledged that she has no intentions of relinquishing Magical Thinking, even though 'vainglory,' as such pleasant ruminations were known in the fourth century, is possibly a deadly sin.

Wait. Can a sin be deadly? Think about that for a minute. You sin, you die? Hmmm . . .seems like you don't sin and you die, too. So she proposes the Seven Deadly Virtues. That's not cynicism, folks. That's living in reality.

Because she would rather spend her time embodying deadly virtues than deadly sins, the Matron took a good hard look at her most tenacious, unrelenting unpleasant tendency: envy.

Friend: "I lost weight! I'd kill my toddler for her cookie, but I'm back to a size 6."

Matron: "You look great!" * inside -- Hey! I wanna lose weight too, loser (even though yours
truly does not actually NEED to lose weight, she still feels envy). Pathetic.

*~*~

Neighbor: "How do you like our new car?"

Matron: "It's great!" * inside -- how she HATES the van with the peace signs and 150 thousand miles with its clumpy rods and clanks. Why can't SHE have a new car?

*~*~*~

Parent: "Little Angel Boo just won a scholarship and placed second in state in dance, football and speech!"

Matron: "Oh that's so great!" * inside -- oh GOD her children are going to be utter failures . . .why can't one of them place somewhere, in something?

~*~*~

Now, please. Don't misread this as a pity fest, starring yours truly. She has a beautiful, lucky life, even and perhaps especially with its problems. She knows that. Neither is this hyperbole or an unduly harsh self-examination. The Matron, with her lovely life, is often jealous. Period. This is a fact and on that level, neither necessarily good nor bad.

But this habit, as of late, is making her unhappy.

It is unpleasant and unsatisfying to want. Wanting what other people have -- especially not even knowing you want it until someone else has it -- is not only unsatisfying but isolating. Even though part of you celebrates (yay Angel Boo!) another, hidden and lonely part, festers. It doesn't matter if the festering mess is a small bit, easily brushed up after some self-recrimination - it still exists.

Got more money, more publications, more children, more blog readers, more professional prestige, more good karma, more land, more dogs, more shoes (gasp!), more sleep, more confidence, more muscle than the Matron? She is envious.

For the Matron, envy is tied to ambition and desire -- the dreams she has of being 'just so.' This 'just so,' at least the dream, includes a lot of things which currently do not define her. Still, she aspires and as she ages those aspirations are changing from things quite material in nature to states of being and acceptance.

One of those aspirations is to shed some of the longing, release the tendency toward wanting what isn't hers, to stop comparing herself (favorably or unfavorably) to others.

Because really? The thing she tells her children is true: there is no comparison. Look in the mirror at what you were given. And that's really all there is, and even this face in the mirror exists just for the briefest snap in time.

5 comments:

Minnesota Matron said...

Jan - I forgot to mention that long ago you sent me a couple of lovely email messages, which I accidentally deleted! A better way to get in touch is petri017@umn.edu

And thank you!!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Some of us are more competitive than others, that really feeds the envy seed. Which makes me wonder again, are we WIRED for certain kinds of sin? I think we are!

Ann in NJ said...

See, I see fault not in your envy, but in the boasting of others. Even if they are truly just celebrating, some people are unaware how hurtful comments like that can be to others: don't tell me your child is excelling in school when you don't know if mine is struggling. And if he is, I may not be telling you!

Mama Ava said...

Don't look in the mirror. Look on the news. We just watched video from Ethiopia, a show about ex-Special Forces that volunteer their time to "re-kidnap" children who were taken and trafficked. Or travel--even down and over into north Mpls. It does help to get some perspective. I get tired of some things (like my old car or spending so much time on clearance racks)! But I remember that I came into this life and I am entitled to nothing, really, and if I could take away the things I hate or the things I envy in others...I'd actually be worse off. Yucky car or no car? The truth is, I could have a new one if I were willing to save less, spend more and use those credit cards. I remember that what I see on the outside often masks uglier things underneath--what WAS the price of that new car--how overextended might they be?

I'm not criticizing you at all--I think people all have their particular vice that seems strike harder than others--and envy is mine, too. When it nips my heels, I try to remember the things I've just said and reorient my thinking.

stlmama said...

I enjoy your writing, as it makes me think. I lurk almost every day but now plan to start to post.
I like the virtues and also need to minimize my envy but do realize that none of us can be perfect. We just keep trying.