Well, it happened.
Bee wakes up early, I make coffee, she asks for craft time, I say sure, and while I usually know better, while I usually use this sun-streamed quiet hour wisely, while I usually reach for a book to read while I cook/burn the eggs, while I usually greet the day with my own thoughts, my own direction, my own path, my own prayers, I did something else instead.
I lost myself in the Internet.
I lost myself.
There is a girl on the screen. She lives in a tiny apartment in NYC and has such ingenious wit and wisdom to share on living minimally, on simplifying, on living a soulful, sustainable life with a kid in tow, with a fully supportive husband who – of course, I’m assuming here – does not keep piles of paperwork and artwork and coupons and phone books and catalogs for weeks on end, stacking, towering, spilling out of every office drawer and credenza because Erin, we might need these someday!
She makes elder-flower spritzers and homemade Play-Doh and knows how to gracefully decline house guests.
She is perfect. Her life is perfect.
I am no stranger to the comparison trap, not in the slightest. It’s a large portion of the reason I quit Facebook (well, there were many reasons there), and it’s a large portion of the reason I regulate my time in front of the screen. I’m prone to thinking everyone has it all figured out except for me, prone to thinking everyone has it all, period.
No one has it all.
I know this, I know this, I know this.
(Why do I not yet believe this?)
But on this quiet morning, as I sit braless with bedhead, it’s easy to see the girl with the elder-flower spritzer in NYC (actually, currently in France – need I say more?!) has it all.
Do you want to know what I did after reading her blog for 45 minutes?
I bought rhubarb at the grocery. I contemplated new kitchen curtains, linen of course. I secretly cursed Ken for not being a minimalist like me, lamented the fact that Bee wants to save every single shred of artwork imaginable. I shamed myself for keeping so many tiny shampoo bottles from hotel trips, and then I fully convinced myself I could keep them, sure, but only if I hid them in newly-acquired under-the-bed-storage from Muji.
Do you want to know what I did not do?
I did not think.
I did not sit with my feelings of inadequacy long enough to realize they were not feelings of inadequacy at all. They were a recognition of someone else’s small successes, someone else’s adequacies, someone else’s triumphs. Look at her, killing it at this living stuff. She’s soaring! She’s happy!
And in my small mind, I twisted someone else’s happiness to mean there would be none left for me.
A simple scenario:
Girl on the screen has rhubarb. I like the girl on the screen; I like the way she lives. Do I need rhubarb to like the way I live, too?
A simple truth:
You don’t either. You don’t need the rhubarb, the linen curtains, the Muji under-the-bed-storage (OK, you might). But you needn’t shame yourself when you think you do.
(It happens to the best of us.)
Anyway, I emailed her, the elder-flower girl.
This is wildly random, but I’m sending you an officially official fan letter to applaud you on the life you’re leading. I know that sounds strange, and I know applause is likely not what you’re after, but hey – we all need a blue ribbon moment every now and then, yes?
I know the life you lead is not without challenges, and I’m so impressed by your self-control, your wisdom, your grace. Thank you for sharing your life with the rest of us.
We’re learning from you, and growing with you, and that’s no small thing.
And just like that, with a hit of the Send button, my own visions of perceived inadequacy vanished and, in its place, a deep respect for another human arrived.
I read once that, of all the feelings we must listen to, jealousy is one of the most important. Jealousy reveals what it is we want. Is it great hair? A gentle spirit? The ability to gracefully decline a house guest?
Sit with it.
Learn from it.
Write about it.