I’ve been feeling a lot of envy lately.
Envy for people with more money, for people who’ve achieved more professionally.
Envy for people who have more sex, who are better looking.
Envy for people with less complicated psyches.
Inevitably, envy flows almost seamlessly into anger and resentment in me.
Irony abounds in my envies: I do not, by any measure, lack for money. And over and over, I have made decisions that privileged happiness over money, lifestyle over ambition. I don’t, in any way, envy the life of anyone I know who has more money or who as achieved more. I simply envy the money, the achievement, the status, itself. The ease that comes from knowing there is enough for me to do whatever I wish. (I’ve actually experienced that sensation; I walked away from it.)
I have lots and lots of great sex – with my wife, with people who are not my wife. I have a configuration of my marriage that permits me to enjoy sex in a way that’s relatively uncommon: both in quantity and in the open.
And my “complicated psyche” is an aspect of myself that I nurture, that I prize. I can’t imagine being less introspective, less endlessly fascinated with my, with everyone’s, interiors, than I am. And yet, I notice the relative ease that appears to flow from those who are less obsessed with introspection. (Here, I’m reminded of a wise man’s admonition, “All the happy people I’ve known, I haven’t known very well.”)
What’s notable about my envy isn’t its existence, or even its quantity. What’s notable it is its ebbs and flows, its variability. When things are good in my life, when I’m contented with and distracted by the things that make me happy, and have perspective on those things that are less than optimal, envy recedes. When envy flows, when it grows, when it becomes predominant, it’s almost always a barometric indicator: it’s another indicator that I’m out of sorts, something’s not right.
I’ve written about being out of sorts recently, and I have been. My life has featured almost no regular routine, and a lot of low-level, high-class complexity. Please don’t worry. This too shall pass. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.