Smoke & Mirrors

That person that you envy, the one that appears to have everything you want? I can assure you that they don't. It's an illusion.

Do you see that beautiful, slender girl? Don't look too close. She cuts herself where you can't see. There's pain inside of her that runs so deep she'd do anything to let it out.

That one over there, see her? Her body isn't even her own. She lets anybody and everybody in. Greedy hands and lips draw and drag against hot skin but she feels nothing at all.

He owns the basketball court. He OWNS it, but that's all he's got. He's getting older and that warranty on his right knee is about to run out and he knows it. If he's not the best, he's nothing at all.

Look at that gorgeous house. An eight car garage? Are you kidding me. His suit costs more than you make in a month, working overtime. He's got everything. But ducking into his SUV, laying his briefcase on the passenger seat, he feels a tightness in his chest. He's got enough money to comfortably retire and he's still young, but he has no identity apart from his material success, apart from his business prowess. If budget cuts cost him his job, he's got a gun that will take that pain away; he'd rather be dead than unemployed.

He's got the perfect wife. They seem so happy. They're always holding hands and talking about how much they love each other. You wonder if you'll ever find that special someone. What you don't see is the distance between them when they're not in public. You don't hear the deafening silence. You only think you want what they've got. It's all smoke and mirrors.

There will always be people who are better or worse off than we are. One doesn't have to look far to find someone that is poorer or richer, prettier or homelier.

We need to spend more time thinking about what we do have and less time thinking about what we don't have. Envy is never productive; it never leads anywhere but DOWN. Gratitude, on the other hand, can lift us up and make us better.

My mother suffered from a degenerative disease of the central nervous system that left her a prisoner in her own body. She couldn't walk or talk or even eat without a gastronomy tube but she was dancing on the inside. One need only look past the obvious physical affliction to see it; she had irrepressible joy that radiated through her smile. How easy it would have been for her to fall into self pity and envy but I never saw her do it. On the other hand, I can't imagine that anyone ever saw past her broken body to envy the beautiful heart of her, but there was much of substance to envy there. She taught me most everything I know about love and gratitude and the substance of joy.

This holiday season, let’s count our blessings then count them again. What are you grateful for, my friends?

©Just Kate, 2009

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    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.

    Music

    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin