|Trust me — I have all the answers|
A question popped up in my inbox recently (well, in Two-Legged Writer’s inbox — she won’t let me have my own email account) about how to handle professional jealousy. Since this particular emotion isn’t something dogs are very familiar with, I didn’t want to bark up the wrong tree in hunting down an answer for the inquiring writer.
I sniffed around on Two-Legged’s bookshelves and found something interesting under the Ls: A book called Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Despite the bad title — why not call it something really fetching like Dog by Dog? — there was some food for thought. In a chapter aptly titled “Jealousy,” Ms. Lamott writes, “But if you continue to write, you are probably going to have to deal with [jealousy], because some wonderful, dazzling successes are going to happen for some of the most awful, angry, undeserving writers you know — people who are, in other words, not you.”
Novelist and memoirist, Joan Didion, has said, “To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self.” I know I’m only a dog with limited experience with the green-eyed monster, but Ms. Didion’s thoughts gave me something to chew on. It seems that if I am jealous of my neighbor dog, Myla, for her beautiful Beagle bay, that’s my problem. Maybe I need to remind myself of all of my wonderful doggy-ness (the list is quite long!). And if Myla’s jealous of my long silky fur or expressive eyebrows or ability to polish up my dinner in three minutes flat, well, I can’t do much about that. As two-leggeds like to say, that’s her problem. And I don’t mean that in a flip way. I just mean that I can bring her a chewy toy or play chase or share my kibble but I can’t help her untangle herself from being jealous of me. That’s something she’s got to work on.
Ms. Lamott tells of ending a friendship for her own mental health when jealousy issues got too potent. That’s certainly one way to handle that kind of situation. But I know there are lots of smart two-leggeds out there who probably have ideas to share with the writer who contacted me this week. I won’t be jealous if you come up with more ideas than I did! Dog’s honor.