Oh, this is a tricky one.
Surely you are acquainted with envy.
Because everybody knows what it’s like to want something they don’t have.
But envy has multiple personalities, one of them being the Good-For-Practically-Nothing kind, which often manifests itself in ridiculous ways, such as…oh, let’s say Hair Envy.
Of this I am guilty.
When I was in high school, I so admired the long, straight blondness that was popular back then. I wanted the hair you see in the header photo above…but my reality was this fine 70’s stylin’ you see to the right.
Yes, I could have let my hair grow long, but it was fairly wild and woolly. It may be a little hard to tell from this picture, but those rascally curls were lying in wait in that shag haircut, just trying to make a break for it. Growing it long would have made it fairly difficult to get through doorways at the time.
Or how about Age Envy, which may also be accompanied by Opportunities-Afforded-People-Younger-Than-You Envy? For instance,
I remember the day I realized I was too old to be Miss America.
Not that that was ever actually on the table, but still.
And as inane as that one sounds, I’ll bet you have some experience with at least one kind of Good-For-Practically-Nothing Envy yourself.
Because lots of people have been known to covet someone else’s
lack of fertility
and on and on ad infinitum.
And lots of people (maybe you?) have friends or acquaintances who appear to be “the perfects.” Abundance springs up around these folks as they bound through life in a field of daisies, terminally cheerful and ever blessed.
Of course, we all know that everybody has tough times, and this perfection is definitely your own distorted, sick perception. Still, it’s hard to relate to a life that has no discernible dysfunction.
(I can’t believe I’m actually saying this. Obviously, I have a little work to do.)
But just to be clear, that kind of envy is counter-productive at best, debilitating at worst. It can distort your vision, and blind you to all the rightness in your life.
So here’s the good news: envy does have its phenomenal side, a side that can usher you directly into a life of adventure if you’re attentive and proactive about yours.
Because, according to Lucy McCauley in Women in the Wild,
Envy is a wake-up call, a message to stop ignoring the soul’s deepest longings.
And how do we mobilize this force for good? Two words: Pay attention.
Pay attention to your gut’s response when someone tells you what they’re up to these days.
Somebody says they’re going to a dude ranch out West, and you want to hide in their suitcase.
Somebody is taking guitar lessons, and you think, “I’ve always wanted to be a bass player.”
Somebody is running a 10K, and you’re sorry you’re not doing it too.
Or pay attention when you see a video online–maybe about someone rocking babies in a hospital–and your heart melts as you think, “I would love doing that.”
Or pay attention when you see a magazine cover or a TV show or overhear a conversation, and your insides twinge a little because you’d like to do that very thing.
What is someone else doing that you wish you were doing?*
Going back to school?
Writing a book?
Travelling to somewhere specific?
Assisting people who need help as a result of natural or unnatural disasters?
I know. It’s easy to ignore the evidence of your “soul’s deepest longings” since, We are masters at killing our own dreams, one way or another. We extinguish the flame of possibility before anyone else has the opportunity to blow it out. It really is safer that way.*
But honestly, this kind of safety is way overrated.
So consider paying attention to your Good-for-Adventure Envy…and then telling us how you might answer the call of that restless heart of yours.
If you’re just joining us, check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…
*Thanks, Nicole Johnson, for Fresh Brewed Life: A Stirring Invitation to Wake Up Your Soul