Leibensneid – Life Envy, as termed by Nietzsche. What this means is that someone, somewhere has a better life, and not in the grass is greener sense. Some woman has better legs (the kind that don’t puff up like marshmallows with trans-Atlantic flights), a faster metabolism, better real estate, a happy romantic relationship, and so on. With this life envy
we I have a certainty in mind that this phantom person has every bit of luck that we I don’t have and if I could just have… her investment portfolio, romantic partner, family, my life would be so much better – – – – –
I talk with my single friends and they long for a marriage with children, I talk with married friends who express yearning for days of being single.
Our yearnings and our choices – I say again, our CHOICES – lead us to where we are and they also cause us to sometimes doubt our own decisions and even to judge. Judge ourselves and judge the decisions and choices of others. I can’t count how many times I have wondered “I should have,” “if I only,” “why didn’t I.” I hear others ruminate and sometimes torture themselves over the same beatings. I have conversations… with myself, friends, family, counsel, and ask the question, answer the question, and hear the expression “what I want is.”
I can want what I want and work for what I believe can be attained – but wanting can haunt – and relationships, opportunities, and lives can be wasted by lamenting what did not happen, was lost, or never gained or saw fruition. Wanting is also what compels us to push endeavors, to risk, and to explore our potential and boundaries… and to grow. I guess it can also be good to want…. And it is good for us to own our actions, choices, and decisions.
While walking in Pere Lechaise our conversation turned to choices and implications of choices and of regret and action. The conversation turned to my foray in acting professionally. I never did anything big and I chose to remain in Phoenix and not pursue a bigger dream. My friend didn’t know that I acted professionally or that I held a multi-year contract for representation by one of the premier model and talent agencies in the world. Nor did she know that I planned to move to New York City to pursue this “dream.” She didn’t know for the same reason most people don’t know – I don’t make it a point to speak of because I don’t define myself by this experience, merely, this is one experience of several things I have done. This is significant in story now because I spoke of my choice to not move to NYC because my boyfriend at the time (with whom I believed myself to be in love) told me, directly, that if I moved to NYC I went alone, he would never visit me, and he would not wait for me. So I chose not to go. And instead decided to try to make the relationship work with him. I wanted to marry this man and I believed him when he said he wanted to marry me… years later the relationship fell to shattered pieces. But I do not look back. I made my choice and it was mine alone to make. I hold no resentment to him nor place any responsibility to him for my decision. And I haven’t reflected backwards ever thinking “I should have gone….” Because that decision led me to the life I have now… which includes typing this in the Philadelphia International Airport as I wait another hour and a half in my four hour layover (and who am I to assume that a choice to move forward with that idea would have guaranteed me an easier or better life than what I have for myself?).
And while I do dabble sometimes in Leibensneid, my life is mine, and my life resembles me – I resemble me. And at a risk of sounding arrogant – which is not at all intended, the intention is expression of the genuine thankfulness for the many graces and gifts of my own luck, my relationships and friendships, my family, and a condo that I can decorate and paint exactly as I alone want it to be, and my choices – those choices that brought me fortune and choices that brought me lessons… and I know that I have green meadows with blossoms in my own life. Although I would love ankles that don’t retain water as furiously as mine do.
As I said yesterday, when the sky opened up on us as we lingered at the terrace table at Les Deux Magots (an old Hemingway haunt) “it’s raining, but it’s raining on us – in Paris – and today was a beautiful day – in Paris!” Heck, if one must get stranded in the rain one should definitely be in the Latin Quarter in Paris!