There are many green things on the road to anywhere. Amicable traffic lights. Flamboyant mini-coopers. Road signs proclaiming exactly how many bajillion miles remain until the next rest stop – bladders of steel! Drivers.
That last one may surprise you. I can’t say I remember the last time I drove down the lane and glanced an emerald-faced driver in the next lane. Can you? If so, we need to swap stories. No, I’m talking about a more metaphorical green, but not the green of illness. Although, with my mother’s driving… *wink* No, not that. It is the hue of envy.
My mom and I recently made an overdue journey to the far off lands of Massachusetts to visit family, which involved hundreds of miles on the road. It was the kind of trip where you are tempted to make a wrong turn just so your GPS will speak up and let you know that you’re still making progress. When is the last time you heard “Turn left in 220 miles”? Yowza!
Needless to say, in a combined 20 hours, we passed a number of cars that drew my wistful eye. Whether it was a Jeep covered with dirt and the aura of adventure or a sharp little Lincoln noiselessly cruising in the fast-lane, there were beauties. For a triplet who has only ever laid a claim to a third of a shared vehicle, the idea of a WHOLE car is enough to set the heart a-pumping. It is no surprise, then, that the snazzier ranks of locomotives can almost literally turn this girl green with envy.
There is always someone with a more expensive car or a more exotic destination on the road. Envy, therefore, tags along on many an adventure like a burr clinging to a traveler’s pant leg. Detracting, distracting, it prickles your mind with the spines of dissatisfaction.
Lately, I’ve found that this road-trip pestilence had also worked its way into my daily life. I have paid so much attention to the accomplishments and talents of others, but not always with appreciation and support. I am glad for them, of course! But, as my friends and siblings acquired impressive opportunities and displayed magnificent skill, I began to judge myself in the light of other people.
Was my destination ambitious, exotic enough? Is there anything to be admired about me? As a car-owner considers his Subaru in the light of a Mercedes, he begins to question what had previously satisfied him. How wrong I was to do so.
I am comfortable with a Subaru. I am comfortable with me. A Subaru is safe, reliable, and familiar. My life, as I have carefully yet creatively crafted it, is all those things and more. It is full of that which brings me greatest fulfilment and joy! Good people, a dash of adventure, and peace. In being happy with myself and my cozy little life, I can extend a little further…
“To find joy in another’s joy; that is the secret of happiness.” — George Bernanos
Instead of turning immediately green when I see that convertible whiz past me on the open road, I feel a little spark of their happiness ignite my own gladness. It is the passing of a flame. Grinning, I can give them a wave while continuing to enjoy my spunky little Subaru. I don’t envy them. I celebrate them.
With the excitement that accompanies big transitions and life decisions may come a prickle of self-doubt. We are sometimes left to wonder how we stack up compared to the next guy, and whether or not we could have done better. If this is the rut you find yourself in, practice the art of gratitude. You can’t go cheering on the guy in the Porsche until you’ve found that you can be happy and satisfied by the Jeep that meets all of your needs!
Create the best life you can for yourself within the realm of your preferences, ambitions, and abilities. Once you have done so, enjoy it actively. You have undoubtedly built your nest of different materials than your neighbor. But, that doesn’t make it “less than.” It makes it YOU.
It’s worth it. It takes practice. But, practice becomes habit. And, once you have found the knack for celebrating your own life, you can begin to appreciate the happiness of others. And then, you have found the greatest form of wealth. For there is nothing more priceless than happiness. And there are billions of overjoyed people in the world. Imagine the bright world we’d live in if we all let those sparks ignite!