The beautiful, talented Jessica Bell wrote about jealousy on her blog yesterday, as she's had some comments lately that were less than kind. I wanted to touch on the subject just for a little bit because I think all us creative types have been, or have been creators of, this ugly green monster called jealousy. So, what I want to say is that, first of all, allowing yourself to feel jealous over someone else's success is probably one of the most unhealthy things you can do to yourself, both emotionally and physically. Second of all, it makes the success that will eventually be yours (when it's your time), less than divine.
I learned this because, back when I started to pursue music and was trying to spread my wings so-to-speak, I met a young woman who had a lot of problems. I tried to help her out, and she in turn, seemed to become indebted to me. What I didn't see was that she was modeling herself after my ambitions of music and, like the movie All About Eve, would try to become me, but only a better me, and with so much strength that I would never really recover. That probably doesn't make any sense, but it's the best I can do to describe what happened. She learned how to play guitar, and began to cover all the songs I had in my reporatoire. Craziest of all, she had a fantastic voice. When she told me her plans of getting gigs at all the places I had spoken of, I tried to let go my feelings of alarm so that I could wish her success without sounding bitter. After all, I was glad to see her doing something positive that would help bring her out of drugs and depression. But then the worst thing happened: I couldn't get any gigs. No one at these places wanted me, because she had covered all the bases and volunteered herself to almost every single opening they had for live music. She was voracious. Another factor was her mother, who had decided to act as manager. She was hungry for her daughter to become the next big thing in music, because it would mean fame and moola. I made the mistake of saying that I was going to venture into another town to play, and low and behold, the mother wasted no time in booking this girl into the exact venues I mentioned. It felt as if I was being pushed out of everything I had ever dreamed of. It hurt me terribly. But life is like that, and sometimes there's nothing we can do but bow out and rethink what's really good and deal what's left after everything else dies away.
So that's what I did. I stepped away. I let her have what she wanted so bad. In the end, I knew--and this made me so mad to be wise like this!!--that she needed this fake glimmering thing called success and attention more than me. I could survive without it, but maybe she couldn't. There was nothing about that to be jealous of.
And now I'm actually grateful for having gone through all of that because perhaps I would have been jealous of my own daughter. She's a very talented kid, and who knows . . . maybe I would have been bitter. All I feel is love for her. And I feel great love and admiration for those who are my competitors and colleagues. The thing is, we may all write, we all may be musicians and artists, but none of what we do can ever be compared because the mere fact that we are each our own separate human makes what we do unique. There's always going to be someone better, someone with a higher level of success, money, charm, you name it--so if you're looking to be on top, good luck 'cause the top is constantly changing. Just be happy for what you have and how much you have to give. And bless those that seem to have it all, because they probably don't.