This starts as a sermon and ends as a love letter.
On the ceiling: nervous, terrified, overwhelmed, paranoid, overjoyed, exuberant, ecstatic.
I’m going to Paris!
While I’m a little sad at the typical reaction, “Oooh, I’m jealous!” I do understand why. Paris is one of those things that shows up in movies, and is for the vast majority of people a vague fantasy. It belongs to the rich, to the people with relatives in France, to the just-out-of-school types with parents that can pay for them to backpack around Europe or go on one of those expensive “educational trips.”
To most of us, it’s just fiction.
While I know people that qualify as lower and lower middle class have traveled the world quite a bit, most have done it with significant financial boosts from family and friends. There is nothing wrong with this, although my US American soul is a bit ashamed that I’m making this trip through no accomplishment of my own.
I’m also a little sad about the jealousy stuff.
I’m hoping more people, over time, learn to set aside jealousy and simply celebrate the good things that happen to other people.
I am promising myself now that this is what I will do when someone achieves something I want for myself. As a professional writer, I get lots of opportunities to practice this. Every time another writer gets a book published, gets a great contract, gets some fantastic press recognition – I say “Congratulations!” I take a moment to put some emotional energy into it, to pay forward their good. I have had some time to look over my life and all the petty jealousies that have littered it. I can honestly say that most of the time, the jealousy was not mine. When confronted with someone else’s towards me, I have always been bewildered by it.
It’s not like life has been easy for me. It’s not like any accomplishment was just handed to me – when I’ve made an achievement it’s been on my own power, and quite real. ((Blah blah blah, US ridiculous standard of living, not in a more troubled place in the world..blah… – by contextual standards.))
To my knowledge, no one has experienced life altering loss or suffering because of my own achievements. Yes, I could do the saintly immobilization thing, and carry on about how the plane hurts the environment, or how I’m touring the military industrial complex or contributing to injustices against traveling American citizens. Ah yes, I could be a saint – or I can act like I’m not a well-approved corpse. What value does going ON about how everything sucks actually have, especially since “everything sucks” is the biggest and most frequent lie ever told?
So what the fuck with our cultural default to jealousy and ill-wishing? Why, when we see a beautiful woman, do we smirk and pat each other on the back for saying “I hate her?” Her attractiveness is not at your expense: if a person you were interested in sexually is interested in her, s/he wasn’t that interested in you. Her presence makes no difference in your outcome. By now we’ve figured out that sexual attraction has zip to do with beauty ideals. We don’t criticize men as harshly for success, but they do get prejudged in other ways: I freely admit I automatically assume an SUV driver is a douche until I see some demonstration otherwise. Why, when someone makes an artistic achievement, wins an award, or is somehow proffered recognition, do we automatically go to how somebody else deserves it more – if not ourselves, then someone we project our wishes onto?
Keeping that other person from success, or directing anger at it, does nothing to make you successful.
I am so happy and grateful I get to have this experience. I am overjoyed to be married to a man who actually enjoys things, rather than putting them down. Because I am blessed with a partner that listens to music on the radio and then decides if he likes it, that will watch godawful and great TV shows to find the good stuff instead of carrying on about “the dumbing down of America,” and that thinks about things before he forms an opinion on them – I get to go to Paris. Mike already knows he’s smart. Most of the time, he’s the smartest guy in the room. He doesn’t need to point to the failure of America, show his knowledge of politics or carry on about social injustices to show he’s deep and intelligent. He already knows he is.
I get to go to Paris because I married a man who has nothing to prove. Because he has nothing to prove, he actually likes things, and does not try to make me feel like crap for liking what I like.
After years of relationships and friendships where people only thought they had something serious, important, or of-depth to say when being negative and focusing solely on the negative (notably while doing very little to change it or create their own alternatives) I found a partner that manages to be intelligent, involved, and positive.
It’s his idea to go to Paris. He knew I’ve always wanted to, and rather than filing it away as “chicks are into that stuff,” he wants to go and see for himself. He’s already found multiple engineering things in France he can geek out over.
I’m going to Paris. Thank you to the people that have said “I’m so happy!” “That’s so cool!” “Oooh, check this out!” “Get a doughnut!”
When something awesome happens to you, I promise to say, “How wonderful!”