What Figuring It Out Feels Like

Sometimes jealousy comes easily to me. This time, it came easy and fast.

The object of my jealousy was a man I didn’t know. But I heard him on the radio. He was on all the good shows.

Of course he was. He was a good man. A good man at a good point in his good life. A point where he had lots of admirers, lots of friends, and lots of homes. Or maybe two. But still.

And at every turn, this good man made new work that was almost always good work. Good work I wished I’d thought of. Good work I wanted to do, wanted to have the courage to do.

I was spitting jealous. Full of piss and vinegar. I jabbed my finger at the unfair world: Why does this guy get all this goodness? Where’s my piece of the good pie, huh?

It distracted me from my work. It knotted around in my stomach. It riled me before bed. And none of it felt good.

I didn’t want a realization, an epiphany. I wanted my own goodness delivered to my own door.

But, as the sages and Mick Jagger tell us, we get what we need. Not what we want. And what I needed came in the form of this thought that hatched over a few pissy, vinegary days:

There was a time, Whelan, when this good man was as unfigured out, unsure, unclear as you. Maybe he still is. You don’t know.

Go ahead. Waste your time on jealousy. It’s an easy, fast distraction. Or start walking down the long, hard road of figuring yourself out.

And on that road, you’ll start to see that the world isn’t made of fixed pies. It’s more abundant than you give it credit for. Big enough to hold all the good work that we can put into it.

It was an uncomfortable thought. And it was a true thought.

I’m trying to take that long walk. Trying to remember the world’s generous enough for me, the good man, all seven billion of us to contribute.

And when I’m tired, unsure, unclear. When I’m starting to feel piss and vinegar, I try to remind myself:

This is what figuring it out feels like.

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