A long time ago I was in a weird "When Harry Met Sally" relationship with a musician. (Really...is there any other kind?) Anyway, I would often go to hear "Oliver" play and often he'd sing "Brown-Eyed Girl," winking at me knowingly. Of course it was a dangling carrot that kept me interested longer than I should have been. But I was young and naive. And I had a lot to learn.
Women surrounded him constantly. (Really...don't most musicians often find themselves in this predicament?) There was one in particular who seemed to haunt every venue I happened to visit. Once Rosie caught wind that I was cycling in Oliver's radar, she made sure to weasel her way into any of our conversations. She sat closer to the stage or made sure she was in his eye-line if she happened to be working the room.
And on more than one occasion, when Oliver played the introduction to one of Van Morrison's best, Rosie would bat her eyelashes and coo, "Why don't you sing it 'Green-eyed Girl?'" I doubt she caught the double entendre, but no matter. I knew from then on that dagger eyes would be heading my way if I ever got in her way on the road to their imminent relationship.
One night in the parking lot, Oliver walked me to my car and was soon joined by Rosie who sneered at my malachite green Honda.
"I would never buy a foreign car," she scoffed.
Instead of informing her that it had been built by Americans in Marysville, Ohio, I simply shrugged and said, "Oh, I only bought it because I like the color."
Oliver laughed out loud and Rosie scowled, angry that I had taken the high road and thrown her disdain back in her face so effortlessly.
But of course, a few years later they got married. Had a kid. Bought the obligatory quarter-of-a-million dollar home that housed Rosie in the ways to which had she had become accustomed.
Eventually I was able to move on, but the cycle would repeat itself several more times before I finally made the decision to do my own healing work so I wouldn't attract any more triangulated relationships in which someone else got the man and treated me like crap because she was jealous of my presence in her husband's life. It was a strange conundrum to experience because at the time I wasn't sure if I was jealous of the other woman...or if I was more hurt by the fact that I hadn't been the one chosen.
Still, hindsight is 20/20 and I'm now overjoyed to be free of the entanglements of the past. That none of the men who I had wanted wanted me. In some strange, unconscious way, they gave me a great gift -- the time and space to really figure out who I am and what I want.
None of them were ever meant to be -- and thankfully so.
Still, here I am in my mid-to-late forties and find myself occasionally struggling with the green-eyed monster. I'm no longer jealous of my friends' marriages or their children. I'm more than satisfied with the life I'm living. However, I often wish that the writers of the Declaration of Independence had not penned that our unalienable rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I'd rather they had written "life, liberty and the pursuit of contentment."
It would save a lot of us a lot of money...and perhaps our sanity as well.
I've driven myself nuts the past few months by looking outside of myself and watching time and again people being financially rewarded for half-assed work. I've watched mediocre books that were written off the cuff (and barely edited) rise on the best-seller list while I still struggle with promoting work I've been polishing for years. I've witnessed people get promoted, buy new homes, take luxurious vacations, and purchase expensive items as if they were nothing while I find myself incredibly thankful for steady yoga students over the summer so I don't have to dip too deeply into my savings to cover my bills.
Yes...there's a part of me that is jealous. And I don't much like it.
I realize it's none of my business how other people spend their money. How they make it. What they do to spread it around. Just like it's no one else's business how I manage my own. Still, after fifteen years of hard work, of paying my bills on time, of never going into debt, of persevering in the publishing world, of getting up after every rejection and striving to hone my writing skills so that I keep getting better, I'd like to see some financial floodgate open so that I, too, can have a little more stability.
And the ability to plan beyond the next eight weeks.
I was talking to my neighbor last night about the idea of financial karma and I asked him, "Do you think we're destined to have a lot of money or not?"
Tyler and I chatted a while about our motivations for wanting it. The great gifts of abundance that have nothing to do with the numbers in our bankbook. We shared stories about the lives of wealthy people we know who are utterly dysfunctional; the ones who have money and are wholly generous.
I said something to the effect of being ready to welcome wealth into my life and Tyler smiled, "You already have an abundantly beautiful garden."
I nodded, but thought, I can't pay my gas bill in lavender buds.
And then Tyler said something that has resonated with me ever since: "I think that our wealth is determined by our self worth."
There are layers to people's lives that I can never know. Karma that has to be worked out in time frames completely different than my own. I've lived all of my adult life as a teacher of some kind and we all know that educators are often on the bottom rung of the financial ladder. Still, it's been my karma to teach. To create a life that has given me a wealth of experience and a host of wonderful people in my life...if not a bunch of zeros behind a big, fat number in my savings account.
And yet, I'm starting to understand that I can have both...the life I want to create and the financial wealth and stability that goes with it. After all, I never quite felt comfortable wearing the "Starving Artist" cloak, the idea that a writer has to suffer to bring forth their best work. Believe me, I know plenty of folks with money to burn who suffer plenty.
For me the key is to let go of what others have. To let them have it without my judgment or belief that they didn't earn it. That they don't deserve it. We're all writing the story of our own reality, and it's time I dismiss my Green-Eyed Monster whose metaphor Shakespeare created in "Othello" and describes as "mocking the meat it feeds on."
She's only interested in what others have...and I'm more interested in investing my time and energy in what I want to create.