(Note: I consider this an early Thanksgiving-themed blog – enjoy)
I attended the Bar Mitzvah of a friend’s son recently. This young man has some relatively severe learning disabilities. Yet, his parents provided him with the sort of support that was full of love and understanding for him. The rabbi adjusted the service to allow him full participation, within his limits, and it was as loving a right-of-passage as possible, with an equally classy and terrific party afterward.
Even the weather cooperated, as their theme was a rainbow and at just the right moment, with all of the guests gathered outside, the rabbi asked us to turn around. We saw the setting sun actually make e a slight rainbow, as if Industrial Light & Magic were hired to create it.
My best friend’s son, his youngest, has been house and teen-sitting for us. He’s 20 now and he’s really grown up in so many ways. It seems the alien pod has left his body and the sane human being his parents raised has returned. Such a relief, as it gives me hope for my two to know that they do grow up!
When he was my teen’s age I remember an incident that really stuck with me, when his family moved. I had offered to help and was horrified at how they allowed and indulged their youngest to basically sit around and do nothing, while we worked tirelessly. He was that self-absorbed.
A recent visit to an old friend’s beautiful new home triggered a brief moment of envy for me. While I was extremely happy and proud of his accomplishment in creating such a lovely home, with so much care and detail, I also found myself longing for something similar in my life, instead of the present rental that we have. But, more importantly, I thought about how envy has occasionally motivated me to succeed and how I wonder if the same thing is happening to the present generation. Is envy a good thing?
To be very clear, I believe there’s a huge difference between envy and jealousy. Envy is not necessarily a bad thing, while jealousy is almost always bad. You can envy someone’s success, possessions, friends, or family, while still feeling positive towards him or her. Jealousy tends to have a component of dislike and negativity to it, directed at the person who has those things of which you’re jealous. Also, jealousy is usually directed towards a person vs. possessions or other qualities, as in being jealous of the attention your spouse receives from someone else.