Thursday, March 23, 2006

Green with Envy

Before I started this post, I did a little research to make sure that what I was feeling was indeed envy and not jealousy. So I looked up both terms on the internets (the source of truth) and here's what I came up with ... just to define the terms.

Envy: Envy is the desire for other's traits, status, abilities, or situation
Jealous(y): 1. Fearful or wary of being supplanted; apprehensive of losing affection or position. 2a. Resentful or bitter in rivalry; envious: jealous of the success of others. 2b. Inclined to suspect rivalry. 3. Having to do with or arising from feelings of envy, apprehension, or bitterness: jealous thoughts. 4. Vigilant in guarding something: We are jealous of our good name. 5. Intolerant of disloyalty of infidelity; autocratic: a jealous God.

I am talking about envy. I guess the 2a definition of "jealous" could fit too.

There is a family that lives up the street from me. The Green family lives on the ground floor of their apartment building. Some of the buildings in my neighborhood are built around/over/on top of older stone homes. When the property was first developed, a family would build a nice big house for themselves. Then over time, they realized that if they build a four or five story apartment building on top of their house then they could make TONS of money. That's what the Green family apparently did. Anyway, they have a super nice garden apartment.

Here's the thing, I have never met Mr. or Mrs. Green, but I know a lot about them. Even though their apartment is screened by the verdant greenery of their garden, at night you can get peaks of their lifestyle within. They have a nicely decorated apartment. The furniture looks elegant and the rooms are actually decorated. Even in the foyer (all glass) there is a big artsy coat stand and orchids on a side table. The kitchen has all new appliances...stainless steel everything but with hardwood cabinets and nice lighting.

If you're reading this from the comfort of your suburban home in the US, it might not sound all that fancy. But here in Israel there is a different/lower baseline of decorating (think college dorm room but more on that in another post). So when you see an apartment really "done up", you know that the occupants have a good deal of disposable income - and that really is unusual in Israel.

Mr. and Mrs. Green have their own matching big, silver Mercedes cars. They're recent models and have no dents and scratches. (Cars here get more bumps and bruises - 'cause Israelis drive like maniacs, they take more risks when driving, and there's less room on the road.) These big cars would probably go for around $50,000 in the US. I assume that the list price is about the same here. But you have to also factor in that there is close to 100% tax on new cars purchased in Israel. So, these folks have about $200,000 invested in their automobiles! Even though they live on the same street where I struggle to find parking, they always manage to find spots close to their home for their massive cars.

I have met the Green's gardener and their cleaning lady. They aren't full-time workers, but they're over there a lot. The garden looks like something out of a tropical Alice in Wonderland - green, beautiful, and blooming all year. Their home stays spotless (I imagine) through the hard work of their cleaning lady. I've seen her scrubbing the front stoop on her hands an knees.

I don't know if I have ever seen Mr. Green but I know that I have seen Mrs. Green. I have seen her emerge from her Mercedes after a day at work/shopping/luncheons/whatever looking coifed and perfect. She's probably late 50s early 60s and looks content...happy even.

The other day I was watching a re-run of Oprah and a pre-Oscar Reese Witherspoon was on talking about life as a celebrity. Reese, in all of her youthful wisdom (she's just a year and some months older than I am - her birthday was yesterday, btw), said something like, "Everybody has problems." Well, duh. I know that life as a Green or a Witherspoon probably isn't all roses. I know that in my head. But when I walk past those fancy cars, that fancy apartment, those fancy clothes...


At 3/24/2006 7:02 AM, Anonymous Kari said...

Fancy things are nice... but I find no matter how fancy shmancy you got it, there are things that matter so much more than the material aspects of this world. Sure it's easier said, becasue living the upedty lifestyle is nice, right? I don't know, I think to share Love and to feel a strong spiritual connection with the Creator, now that is a feeling in which nothing could be greater... it's a powerful feeling one feels within...and is meant to be shared with others through giving... now that's priceless. Just like your blogs... thank you for giving.

At 3/24/2006 2:10 PM, Blogger John said...

Thanks, Kari! I agree with you in many ways and I've got a follow up post in the works that I'll post this weekend.

At 3/24/2006 6:48 PM, Blogger Sam said...

There's so much that I want to say here, but it's just too much! Perhaps we can discuss it in a chat?

I think your 7 deadly sins idea is great in many ways. Keep talking!

At 3/26/2006 12:53 AM, Anonymous אביב said...

כשהפסקתי לרחם על אלו שמתחתי, הפסקתי גם לקנא באלו שמעליי. גיליתי שכשאני מרוכז בעצמי אני הרבה יותר מאושר.


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