I have been consciously trying to become less envious in my life. This initiative started, as most do, while I was taking a bubble bath. I was listening to some awfully boring NPR broadcast on my shower radio. The lights in the bathroom were off and there was an emptying box of Oreo’s on the sink next to the tub. Hey…don’t judge. Desperately trying to sound intellectual, the NPR reporter quoted some tenant of Buddhism to help make his point about Mitt Romney’s chances in the Iowa Caucuses or some stupid thing. He said, “Buddhism says that desire is the root of all evil.” I sloshed around the suds, putting my laptop the dry bath mat adjacent. Stop judging. That’s a stupid notion, I thought to myself. Desire is the root of all evil. Then I started doing the math. And damn it if that Buddha fella wasn’t on to something! So right then and there I decide to wean myself off of desire and all its jaded relatives. Envy, I decided, would be the first to go. I need to stop looking at what other people accomplish or obtain. I need to focus on within. I adjusted my Aqua-Socks, took one more sip of my Miller Lite and contemplated in the darkness.
Listen…I like to relax. That OK with you?
Of course any time I have an epiphany about how I’m going to change my life, something usually comes along and ruins it. After my 4-hour “No Desire” phase, I read an article about this guy named Wallace Stevens. He was a world-renowned poet who won a Pulitzer Prize, fought Ernest Hemingway and is now considered “the best and most representative” America poet of all time. The beauty of his life? He never gave up his secure, high-paying day job. Stevens was a Vice-President of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Firm , writing and publishing poetry during his spare time. He was married and had a daughter. This guy had the best blend of everything. He had a rich family life; a stable, luxurious income and he was able to creatively express himself at the highest level. I am envious of his life.
How in the name of sweet baby carrots did he do it all?
Invective Against Swans by Wallace Stevens
The soul, O ganders, flies beyond the parks
And far beyond the discords of the wind.
A bronze rain from the sun descending marks
The death of summer, which that time endures
Like one who scrawls a listless testament
Of golden quirks and Paphian caricatures,
Bequeathing your white feathers to the moon
And giving your bland motions to the air.
Behold, already on the long parades
The crows anoint the statues with their dirt.
And the soul, O ganders, being lonely, flies
Beyond your chilly chariots, to the skies.
But there is someone out there, right now, who is giving Stevens a run for his money. He has a stable, fulfilling job and a creatively expressive hobby. But he is doing it while raising six children, all boys. Just by sheer odds alone, he’s going to have at least one son play Hockey at a professional level. And that’s where he has the Pulitzer Prize Winner defeated.
Wallace Stevens, meet your match. His name is Tom Musial.