You don’t speak for me
July 11, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
Today I read a long blog post about how “90 percent” of us are furiously jealous of all good fortune that others enjoy. It’s only natural. If someone else is happy, successful, attractive, physically fit, talented, healthy, wealthy, and wise, the overwhelming majority of us wish ill on the person and hope they suffer calamity. Well, you don’t speak for me, Mr. Jealous Blogger.
I happen to know that the person who wrote that is fat, of average looks, a heavy drinker, a heavy smoker, and a depressive. So am I, except for the drinking and smoking part. But I used to drink and smoke.
Nothing makes me happier than others’ good fortune. This may be innate, since I was never jealous of anybody. For whatever reason I always knew that what somebody else experienced had no bearing whatsoever on my life, so there was no point in being envious. From being indifferent to others’ good fortune, I’ve evolved into finding strength and great joy in the blessings of my fellow humans.
Recently I tried to learn how to play this bass line.
I couldn’t. My hands are too damaged by osteoarthritis for me to ever accomplish it. But does that mean the person who can play it should die? Why? Because I can’t do it, nobody else should be able to do it, and then the entire world is thus robbed of beauty and musicianship?
Jealousy leads to a lowered standard of living for everybody. Class envy is never about raising up the poor; it’s about bringing down the wealthy. Those who are envious of the beautiful want everyone to be unattractive. Jealousy is about punishing others for having what we lack.
Some rich guy got to marry Lady Agnew of Lochnaw.
Does everybody have to be a physical ruin just because I wasn’t able to keep my Lady Agnew of Lochnaw? The whole world has to suffer because I suffered?
Maybe I’m not usual, but my own suffering makes me want to spare others. It could be that many people simply lack the imagination to conceive how bad off you can be and still live.
Exist, not live.
Envy and jealousy inevitably lead to bitterness, and that’s the endgame. Once you become bitter, you’re beyond salvation. Every great evildoer I’ve known has been bitter. Lurking right under jealousy and envy is a sense of entitlement. I never felt entitled to anything.
One of the things I wanted very badly to do was write poetry. It simply wasn’t possible. I published a poem in Ghosts and Ballyhoo. It’s about my former cat, who lived to be twenty-three. Her name was so unusual that I can’t reveal it without identifying her owner, who prefers anonymity.
A Cat Named [withheld]
I once knew a cat named [withheld],
Who named me for her convenience.
She called me “Eh-eh,” her reluctant warning.
It meant “Not a chance,” the answer
To all my questions, though I think
It pained her to keep reminding me.
We watched the birds and played.
I had a rubber spider strung to a pole.
She hunted it in mad aerial loops
Five feet off the floor.
When she’d had enough, she’d tell me:
“Eh-eh. (Not a chance.)”
She came when she wanted.
She played when she felt like it.
She refused me quite often.
But just as often she landed on my lap
With a soft thump.
Sitting, purring, washing,
Pausing to make sure I understood.
“Eh-eh. (Not a chance.)”
Thank you for those chances.
They live on in me, as do you.
It’s mediocre, like all my poems. Years ago I knew a child who was a brilliant poet. It was shocking how fully formed this talent was. But the child’s mother was envious, and she destroyed the child’s writing skills by taking over and dictating. It never even occurred to me to be jealous. I hoped the child became a fantastic success. My own desires had no bearing on the situation. The fact that the child was a phenomenally gifted poet didn’t change my life in any way.
Generalizations about human behavior are by definition misanthropic. Those who say, “90 percent of us (do this crappy thing because people suck)” are pathetic, truncated runts in love with their own failure.
As an antidote to this ugly smear that was praised by the blogger’s doglike followers, I went out to a local vantage point with Tim. We took photos and walked around. Here’s the valley in which I live.
The red arrow on the right is the hotel in my novel Chasing the Last Whale, and the arrow on the left is the general vicinity of my house.
A bird of prey hovered stationary in the thermals above our heads.
On the way back down from the top of the hill, I found my own bird, which I made of a dried root, a rock, and a twig.
Back to poems.
When I lost my Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, I didn’t want to kill her or make her suffer. Stephen Crane wrote a poem about what I wanted for her. Oh, I was angry and completely demolished, and I never recovered.
But that didn’t mean that she had to die too.
Ay, workman, make me a dream,
A dream for my love.
Cunningly weave sunlight,
Breezes, and flowers.
Let it be of the cloth of meadows.
And let there be a man walking thereon.
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