At what point does admiration cross over into envy? Not the kind of envy that finds its roots in what another person owns but rather that stems from what another person is.
K’s quiet home was a refuge; not that I thought of it that way. I was far too young. But I knew it was different from the often chaotic home of my childhood. Coloring in our color books at K’s house was calm. Her mother always seemed to have peanut butter cookies cooling on the porch, ready for two hungry little girls after school.
As we got older, I sensed the simple joy of being there turn into envy. K’s crayons were organized and always sharp. Mine were a jumble of colored waxy sticks with torn labels, tossed in a shoebox. As much as I loved breakfast oatmeal reheated with a quarter pound of butter, it lacked the sense of specialness that those cookies implied.
Sadly, more than 60 years later, I still feel pangs of jealousy, but now it’s the character traits of someone I admire that bring that unwelcome specter into my consciousness.
Example (and I’ll confess that I’m embarrassed to admit this): A woman I know writes. Faithfully. Every morning. Five days a week. Me? I think about writing. I plan to do it. I make promises. But my latest Kindle download, games of Solitaire, and the “need” to check Facebook yet again take priority.
So what am I waiting for? Inspiration? “Inspiration is for amateurs,” said Chuck Close. “The rest of us just get up and go to work.”
My current project, still in its early embryonic stages, is a memoir. Working title: “Blue Collar Neighborhood, White Collar Dreams.” The title works; the ideas are there; the notes are made. But writing it? Frankly, I’m scared of merely organizing those notes! It smacks of work!
And there, inherent in the word “work,” lies my answer: Creating is hard work. And with hard work comes the possibility of failure. After all, it’s far less work to fail by avoiding all that work in the first place.
I’m not the first to address this fear-of-failure challenge. I’ll certainly not be the last. But as soon as I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.
“Redrawing My Past” © (pastel by Judy Westergard)