Each day I open a new email, which brings news of another’s life; a photo of a newborn baby, a promotion, a marriage, a divorce, the meeting of a mate, or death. Sometimes it fills me with an irrational rage, an anger that comes from jealousy, a jealousy that comes from envy, an envy that comes from the delusion (illusion) that someone’s life is better than mine. Someone I know is happier, more successful, more at one with the universe or just more detached. Email is a roller coaster of theatrics. If I were truly honest with myself, instead of wallowing in self-pity, I would know that the grass isn’t necessarily greener. In fact, most likely the lawn is full of weeds, is dying, fake or cared for by strangers.
When I see or hear about another’s life, I stop myself and think. I literally have to stop what I am doing and have an honest conversation with myself. I’m getting good at it too. “Do you really think they are happier?” “Is that what you want?” “Would that make you happy?”
Basically it’s a dull conversation but I have to have it because I just haven’t learned. This conversation is said inwardly, of course.
I have learned a few things, after all, practice makes perfect. Attachment seems to be my problem for the most part. Getting attached to people, places, and rituals…then having them taken from me, is more distressing than being slightly envious.
Yet I know that change is a certainty. Without a doubt things will be different tomorrow. I will be fatter or slimmer. A flower in the garden might bloom or might fall from its hub. A friend may make his/her usual call or may vanish entirely. For all kinds of reasons, there is change.
Fighting change always seems a mistake. I wonder if it is the human condition to fight change. Sometimes fighting change brings on a change for the better. Sometimes accepting change ends a battle and brings harmony.
I wonder am I envious when I see Mariah Carey sipping champagne in St. Barth’s? Of course I am…initially. Do I want to hang with Mariah? No. Do I like to drink champagne during the day under a blazing sun? No. Do I enjoy the tropics? Yes. Do I like the feeling of the warm Caribbean waters caressing my tense skin? Yes.
Most of what I perceive (if I am honest) from my emails, is theater (drama!). Rarely are people truly honest, so I have learned to read between the lines. Sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong. Life seems to be a gamble or a game of chance. Not all of us gambling on the same things. I gambled on leading the life of an artist. Someone else may be drawn to the game of marriage or prostitution, business, stocks, or simply the gamble of trust. Even illness is a gamble. Will I take on the enormous task of healing myself through any means, or will I leave it to chance and just keep complaining about it? Recognizing the occasional reward of gambling is the trick, because it’s far too easy to wallow in the losses.
Death is not a gamble, it is just part of life. Yet we treat it as something wholly different and separate. As if we are thrown in a dark closet with a rattlesnake. Yes, the idea of losing someone we love is overwhelming and hard to take… and that leads me back to clinging and attachment.
I was listening to something recently and the speaker mentioned that when Henry David Thoreau was dying and in great pain, he reassured those around him that he was okay. That he went along with his illness and did not fight it. The illness was part of his life, his journey. I’m doing a bad job of paraphrasing but the general idea was that he accepted his state of being. Paraphrasing (horribly) again, when Thoreau’s mother (aunt?) asked if he had made his peace with God, his reply was “I didn’t know we were in a fight.”