Unique New York

Just like a regular woman, only crankier.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Envy and Gratitude

I was thinking today about a culturally acceptable sin. This sin is envy. Envy is what I feel when I see a woman purchasing a scarf and I want it for myself. I want to distinguish between envy and desire. Desire is the drive toward a need or a want. Envy is wanting that thing at all costs because you feel the other person doesn't deserve it. I covet quite frequently, but in US culture, it's okay to covet and be envious, because of the US infatuation with entitlement and capitalism. Businesses could not sell products if they marketed to only my needs, so they bump up the chances that I will go into debt and buy by saying I deserve what is out of my reach.

While envy can be destructive, envy takes another form with me. Envy makes false promises that it cannot keep. While I am living here in this shitty neighborhood where I have no friends or supporting culture, I am envious of people who get off of the subway stop to Atlantic Avenue, and even more envious of the lucky bastards who take the F train. The promise of envy is that once you have your desired object, that all will be well. However, I know that is not the case. My happiness is not location specific. What's worse, is that in American culture, if one is unhappy with one's situation, if one decides to get over it and accept the environment, it's called "settling". Settling is practically a four letter word. It contradicts the pioneer spirit of freedom, democracy, and the whole western ideal. If my parents had "settled", they would still be in Ireland.

However, happiness and contentedness is a commitment and a decision. While enviromental setting can paint the walls of one's own happiness, one's own commitment must supply the roof. My commitment to myself is to internally distinguish my desires and envious feelings in order to decide if I should fulfill them or not, and to make my happiness an altogther separate issue. Buddhists have been onto this track for a long time; that the root of all suffering is desire. However, Buddhists are not on the marketing teams at Target. So I have to change my own mind.


  • At 9:38 AM , Blogger Chase said...

    Kind of like in high school when you were envious of the enlightened life that Lisa Ringwald lived? Talk about depth.


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