Posts Tagged ‘envy’

After a long travel day yesterday I got to wake up in Texas this morning…..sigh. It’s sure good to see the sun shining again after two weeks of pounding rain and the gray skies of Vancouver. I did what I always do when I come back …and that is to reacquaint myself. Call me crazy but I love driving down the freeways, they’re so big and wide, like driving your couch if it had a steering wheel and gas pedal, and headed into the new sunrise with the sunroof wide , listening to the red dirt poets of Texas on stations like ‘The Range’ 95.9 FM and of course the Texas blues ‘Texas Renegade Radio at 89.3 FM….depending on my lust for inspiration, these are the sounds of Texas that bring me back inside.

Red Dirt music is not country, it’s not western…it’s Texan, raw, poetic, lyrical, personal and somewhat strange until you understand the context, colloquialisms and inferences….it’s quaintly under produced and folksy….eat your heart out Kieth Urban. Texas blues is hard charging guitar and harmonica driven…think Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King and T-Bone Walker…distinctly different sound from Delta or Chicago styles…..hey….after all, it’s Texas…..you know you’re in for something good.

So I’m pulling in the driveway, my neighbors cleaning the pool, we talk, not about anything in particular, just the weather and if it’s going to be a good day to grill….that’s BBQ for the rest of you. Texans are like that, they don’t notice your new car or want to know where you’ve been, they’re just happy to see you. This is so refreshing for me after living in Canada where the conversations run like this…”What do you do?”….”How much did you pay for that car?”….”Where do you vacation”……and then they’ll run a litany of comparisons………gag…..so boring….so covetous, jealous, envious and impersonal…..kind of creepy after you’ve been away from it for a while…..so good to be in a place where people are more satisfied with their lives.

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Do you travel so often and stay away for so long that the people you know with regular jobs and less interesting lives begin to covet what you do? Have people you thought you knew started to show they envy you with changes in your relationship… a cold shoulder here, a missed invitation there….no more phone calls or email returns? Does the content of your communication start looking one directional , answers short and terse, the longer you’re away in some tropical destination? When once they wished you well, do you feel like people don’t like the fact that you’re doing something they envy and are just wishing you away?

I come from Vancouver Canada, probably the most covetous, envious, back biting and least well wishing place I have ever witnessed. People there just hate it when anyone has made a footprint beyond their own. This extends to career, education, lifestyle, housing, cars, clothes…you name it. The first thing people in Vancouver will do is categorize you with questions designed to find out what you have, what you live in, what you drive, what you make, who do you know…and where you’ve been. If you’re at all accomplished or interesting, they’ll shun you like a pariah out of envy and the fear that you’ll show them up.

I conclude this general attitude towards others is what has earned Vancouver as ‘The Loneliest City on Earth”. That moniker was earned when new comers were polled with the question “Is it hard to make new friends or contacts”….the resounding response was “Yes….impossible”. Having lived there I know that Vancouver’s issues are not solely around snobbery that stem from a state of completeness, the issues really come from a virulent jealousy of the outsider. People will literally run up your back to get ahead of you in Vancouver. Maybe this is why it’s also a hot spot for murder and ‘the road rage capital of the world’.

I don’t want to make this issue all about Vancouver, but it holds itself up as an easy target when it comes to spotting petty behavior’s. Case in point…’The Hockey Riot Syndrome’ ….where people occasionally go mad and begin burning, smashing and looting for no apparent reason. I believe this phenomenon is actually the zeitgeist of Vancouver society, where people are livid with their lives to the point where any excuse to burst out and target the innocent is deemed fair play. My thesis is that Vancouver is a case where advertised expectations far exceed the probability of individual success, leading to mass frustration….”The Best Place on Earth”…it is not.

This is why travel is a sore point among Vancouverites in particular. There are no international companies based in Vancouver, and few head offices in Canada, giving no opportunities for Canadians to get out into the world the way Americans, Britain’s or Europeans are able to. This is why you’ll meet precious few Canadian expats living abroad. It makes ‘travel’ a point where Canadians covet their neighbors over pissy little vacations….and the driving need to ‘get away’. If you can actually travel as a lifestyle or business….well, you’re considered an outsider. Given what I have experienced in Canadian society generally, I’d rather be the outsider than play the covetous game of “Where have you been”, and have to show my passport like a trophy that defines me.

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Believe it or not, I have often come across people who are not very happy that I have adopted this carefree lifestyle of rootless traveler. These are people who are alive but do not live. They are not happy for me. I am sometimes met with envy, jealousy and covetous contempt.  I call these people the  ‘Zombies Astral’. The term refers to a person who has had their soul stolen by a powerful wizard and are subsequently encased in a bottle or vessel of some kind for all time. Once trapped, their spirit is under the domination of the spells of the shaman and they must do what they are told to do, by the holder of the vessel, dead or alive, without free will, there is no prospect of peaceful release for the zombie astral.

The ‘zombies astral’  I meet occasionally come in all shapes and sizes, from all sub-components of society. They can be artists whose lack of  skill in the art of living makes them die hard malcontents  seeking release through recognition and the distant perception of freedom that a windfall of accidental and overdue discovery might bring. The majority of zombies are the day-workers, professionals and otherwise who feel trapped in an unhappy  job, unsatisfying career or dead-end lifestyle that they themselves have chosen to follow. The idea that I am a butterfly enrages some people. I get the feeling they would trap me in a net and pin my wings to a cardboard sheet if that were possible.

I have far less future security or financial wherewithal by comparison and yet they envy me, because I am free. Freedom is the one natural attribute that holds itself above all human values, it is pure and always rises above the market. We are all given the gift of freedom at birth and then most people either foolishly give it, exchange it, sell it or barter it away for possessions during the course of their lives. That zombies astral  are trapped by their own design and see no way of extricating themselves from the mess they have wrought in their own lives is not something I have had any charge in. They have fallen for the siren song of the trixster who rules the marketplace. The things these people have most in common is that they envy everyone and anyone whom they perceive as being ‘better off’ than they are and….. that they are  slavishly addicted to playing lotteries of any kind as if only some cosmic magic will alleviate their terror and mediocrity. The ‘Zombie Bottle’ is the life they have made for themselves…. their own choices have enslaved them.

The covetous nature of the intent of advertising has had a devastating effect on people of my society. Emotions have been replaced by objects, desire has been supplanted by possession of popular things. I began to notice that conversations in the west had begun to generalize across certain nations in particular where the initial exchange was only about position, possession and pretense. “Good Morning” in my culture is always followed by “What do you do?” so as to categorize a person financially in the social strata. Next is always “Where do you live?” In my city everyone knows the property values from area to area as well as they know what’s in their refrigerator. Automobiles have been sold as replacements for personality, as if a certain model can cloak who you are and replace you with a magic message of cool or renewed virility.

I don’t fit in to these conversations or exchanges, I am an outsider, without the necessary accoutrements to identify myself to those around me. I am like the troubadour singing an unpopular song outside the gates of a dark city at war. My presence in certain quarters creates an uncomfortable dissonance as if a window has been suddenly opened in the dark rooms of a crack house and a cleansing light has flooded in. A new set of golf clubs will not take your heart soaring to the heights that stories of fabled places will do, you can’t replace your feelings with possessions, nature will not allow it. I get the feeling in these cases that the zombies would like to eat my brain when they have realized  their possessions mean nothing to me. My presence makes everything they have worked for seem worthless. It is incomprehensible to me that people will hate you for something as naive and beautiful as travel, but it is so. Instinctively, freedom is what the soul desires most…..freedom is a window into the mystic.

I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want a mortgage ( the origin of this word is Latin meaning ‘to grip until death’) . I have no use for automobiles as I am told that I was born handsome and well endowed. The purchase of ‘things’ will do nothing to create a better person so I’m stuck with who I am. The older I get has money meaning less and less every day, the acquisition of power and position is just too time consuming and wasteful. The collection of memberships in ‘special’ clubs is nonsensical to a person like myself who seldom wants to visit the same place twice.

I say to the ‘Zombies Astral’ of the world………life is what you make it…..get a life. Take a journey through the landscape of imagination.