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  • Writer's pictureSharon Uy

#23. Jealousy


I didn't want to write about jealousy. I would have preferred to write about something easier and less bothersome, like judgment or jokes or Jupiter or Jesus H. Christ or Judgment Day. But, sigh, jealousy is like the maddening scritch of the mouse making its way through the walls in the middle of the night. Sooner or later, it needs to be addressed, before it eats you out of house and home.

Jealousy is defined as "hostility towards a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage," which, for some reason, I find hilarious. Envy is defined as a "painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage," which, frankly, I find triggering.

For the sake of time, attention, and sanity, I use the word "jealousy" here as an umbrella term for both "jealousy" and "envy." Close enough. And, for the sake of interpretation, please note that I use the word "jealousy" to include a smorgasbord of things, not as a simple reference to romantic relationships.

For instance, I've lately found myself jealous of real, true, bona fide artists. I envy those edgy free spirits who have extricated themselves from the machine, if they ever lived there or have even heard of it. People who seem to be in ultimate alignment with their purpose. This is an intermittent but lifelong jealousy. Sometimes I feel like a well of bottomless unanswered questions and untapped creativity, but I'm a slave to a steady-enough paycheck and the idea of a normative retirement, and the cost is a phantom life that was dedicated solely to the pursuit and creation of art.

I feel jealous of anyone who can afford to buy a house. I envy the sense of adult-ness that must come with owning property and a couple walls. Or the people who timed the stock market right and don't seem to be worried about money, who planned in the past for their future selves and are now reaping the benefits. Sometimes I feel jealous of cars going the other direction if I'm stuck in traffic. Or anyone who's retired, whether early, on time, or late. I'm jealous of people who have abs and the discipline to just say no to processed food. People who take risks and don't seem to give any thought to what anyone else thinks about them or the choices they make in life.

I'm jealous of cool people. Sometimes I think I'm just a boring gal adorned in occasional flashiness, and I wonder if my motives for certain actions and jobs are so that they can infuse me with more personality and make me more interesting than I really am.

But then I remember that I'm actually pretty fuckin' cool. And that I am neither "cool" nor "jealous," but that cool is as cool does, and jealousy is just another shadow part that requires a bit more exorcising. Or loving attention and healing.

--

As (un)helpful as it is to make lists like these and check them a zillion times, the problem with all of this is, according to the second of the four noble truths of Buddhism, that suffering arises from attachment. We operate under the falsity that we are entitled to anything outside of our own existence here on this planet, that we own or are owed anything. Nothing is ours! A harsh truth, perhaps, but a truth nonetheless.

If we surrender to the idea that there is nothing that belongs to anyone, then nothing can be given or taken or stolen. Once we get microscopically up close or telescopically far away, it's all just energy in different forms being passed around like a hot potato. An eternal cycle of cosmic "buy nothing," all kindness and appreciation and manners. Aparigraha, the yogic principle of non-attachment.

And if we're not ready to go there just yet, gratitude is a salve. The symbiotic twin of jealousy is lack. If instead we focus on what we do have, the things that we don't have cease to matter as much, become less powerful over us.

I try to practice what I preach. But sometimes, as words flow out of my mouth, I think, Oh, this is such bullshit. Anyway, if you’ve never experienced jealousy, I envy you. By the way, what planet did you come from, and are there any vacancies?

--With love and thanks, Brookie

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