Friday, April 12, 2013

Thoughts On... Envy

One of the things I like about the bulk of the tv shows I watch is that they all spur some kind of meta thinking in me. Just a few days ago, I watched an episode of Big Bang Theory. In that episode, one of the main characters had a fit of envy that ended up ruining a romantic dinner with her boyfriend. I'm not going to get into the details of the event, but it did get me thinking about envy, both as a general concept and the last time I really felt envy.

Now, let's get something straight off the bat. I'm talking about envy, NOT jealousy. While everyone seems to think they are interchangeable, they aren't. Jealousy is the fear of losing something or someone that you're attached to or possess to someone else. Like losing a girlfriend to another guy. Envy is the resentment that you feel when someone has something that you want, but don't have. Understood? GOOD. There'll be a test afterwards. Now, getting back to the point.

The last time I felt real envy was a few months ago, and it lasted all of 45 seconds. See, a few months ago, I found out that a friend of mine has a very singular talent. When he sings, he has the ability to turn women to mush. I've seen it on multiple occasions. He'll start singing and every woman in the room, regardless of age, turns her focus directly on him. Within moments, they get the glassy eyes, start breathing shallowly and slowly, and lose all conscious recognition of anything else but him and his singing. You could bowl them over with a feather.

Watching this happen right before your eyes, the effect is frightening at first. But then you realize the power that has. You could sing your way into the heart of ANY girl you wanted. No chance of rejection of any kind. What a power! And it's WASTED on a guy who is already married!!! And here's where the envy started. I spent a good 30 seconds (which for ME is a long time) focused on the injustice of it all. Why should a married guy get the power to wilt all women? He already has one! With my bad luck with women, a power like that... and so on.. I spent the next ten seconds listing out all the women I could have had as girlfriends if I'd had this power. I went so far back as to my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Butler. (Yeah, she was hot!) At the 40 second mark, my rational side kicked in and stopped the whole mental rant with two questions.

"Isn't the point of music, according to you, to dance and party? Isn't that why you hate slow songs?" 

I then spent the last 5 seconds with the envy fading in my mind as my rational side brought up how BORING it would be to be up there singing the same slow songs over and over again. Not being able to do anything up tempo, to get the blood moving. And reliving all the times I performed with my bands and got that adrenaline rush when the crowd connects with the energy you throw out and the performance just intensifies taking you for a ride that no drug could EVER match.

And I came to the realization that I never really wanted the power my friend had. Getting women to melt over me, while sounding good, wasn't what I really wanted musically. I wanted the groove. I wanted the ability to start a song up and by the end have everyone on their feet dancing and moving to the music I was making. And that, I already have. After that, I enjoyed the rest of my friend's performance and rejoiced with him as all the women listening started fanning themselves and started taking deep breaths to calm down. Later on, I got up to sing. People danced. And all was right in the world!

See that's the sneaky thing about envy that they don't cover in Sunday school when they talk about Envy and the six other deadly sins. It has nothing to do with the person you're jealous of in any way. It has to do with a weakness or flaw you see in yourself. So you want the thing the other person has not because of the thing's inherent value, but because it will remove the flaw you see in yourself and restore you to the perfection you had before. A lot of people don't get over that and cause themselves, and others, a lot of pain. They never really understand that having flaws and not being perfect is a major component of what makes us human.

In the end, the only real way to get over envy is to truly understand what you want for yourself and enjoy those things with the knowledge that they are just things and not ways to fix flaws that no one else can see.

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