Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The Green-Eyed Monster At Christmastime (and I don't mean The Grinch!)
I know, the Grinch has red eyes, but you know what I mean. I'm talking about being jealous of others during that time of year when you really should be counting your blessings, but hey, we're all human, right? Maybe you feel jealous when you hear how others are planning these huge family celebrations and yours is always small because most of your family has moved away. Or maybe you know your friend's husband has gotten her a diamond necklace and you're only getting a gold one. Either way, people's lives are not always what they seem, and I have a story which seeks to illustrate this:
Marie remembers spending much of her childhood alone, looking out from the glass of her grandmother's sliding doors, wishing she had just one friend to play with. In second grade, she was consumed by frightening phobias that something terrible would happen to her. When her class made a "Wish Board," and wrote down things like "I wish that chocolate grew on trees," Marie simply wrote, "I wish I had no worries." In fourth grade, Marie took a few sick days from school and returned to find her entire class had decided they didn't want to be friends with her anymore. She often escaped these lonely times by locking herself in her bedroom, singing along to her records. She began high school struggling to overcome the recent losses of both a grandparent and a parent which prompted her to escape the memories of her hometown and move to Boston to enroll in music college to fulfill her childhood dreams of becoming a singer. Instead, she suffered vocal damage and was told by a specialist that she'd never be able to sing the way she wanted to because of chronic allergies that caused hoarseness. She gave up her dreams of singing and eventually moved back to her hometown.
Linda recalls a childhood filled with love as the youngest member of a family of six which included live-in grandparents. When she was eight, she learned how to ride a bicycle and rode around her neighborhood meeting tons of friends. She looks back fondly on summers filled with neighborhood kids all playing together till it grew dark and the mosquitoes came out. She was a gifted student who played piano at weekly assemblies in her grade school auditorium. She won the fifth grade school spelling bee and had a huge birthday party that year at a rollerskating rink. Her party even included the boys. High school was a free and easy time of little responsibilities. She and her best friend often spent weekends taking the subway into the city to go record-shopping and getting kicked out of magazine stores for making too much noise by laughing so hard. She moved to Boston to attend music college, and although she didn't land the glamorous job she'd hoped for, she did become a retail buyer in a record store where she dealt directly with record label reps and often saw famous people, some of them her childhood idols, shopping at the store right beside her! She enjoyed being surrounded by music all day for many years before moving from Boston to New York City.
Given the choice to trade lives with Marie or Linda, I'm sure you'd trade lives with Linda, although if you did, you'd have to take Marie's life too because Marie and Linda are actually the same music student -- me! I got this idea from the self-help book, "Finding Your Own North Star," by Martha Beck. You remember her. She's the Oprah protege who SHOULD have had her own talk show! She wrote two versions of the same person's life in a section called "Be the hero of your autobiography -- not the victim." Growing up, whenever I was jealous of someone, my mom always asked me, "But do you really want to trade lives with her? Think about everything you know about her. If you really want to be someone else, you have to take on their entire life, not just the parts you're jealous of." So just remember this holiday season, as you eye your friend's jewelry or her big, close-knit family, that you're only getting PART of her story.