Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Sometimes I think our personalities are like my father's dead Saluki, Roo. Roo was big and white and an insatiable jumper; he jumped again and again, leaping the six-foot-high wooden fence to chase cars and worry squirrels before skulking back to whine at the gate. One day he didn't come back. Someone found him half-dead by the side of the road and my father had to put him -howling, Roo; howling, my father- to sleep.

Like Roo, our natures throw themselves under the bus. We keep jumping our barriers -our consciences, our better selves, our wiser impulses- and racing down the same old roads.

For me, it's envy. Of the seven deadly signs, this is my fence-jumper. I know it does no good to feel it; I know it dunks me, willy-nilly, into unhappiness. And yet, again and again, I leap.

Envy is worse than covetousness. You covet when you envy, yes. You want something someone else has. But there's a black edge to envy, a lash of self-loathing. Someone else has something you ached for or something you worked for, and it is because you weren't good enough. Envy twists you; it makes you sour and bitter and ashamed.

But as my SLP boss said at staff meeting today, you work with what you've got. You don't whine about who you are or where you are or how many psychologists you have available for intakes. You look at what's out on the table and say, What can I do with this?

Even if what's on the table is a dying dog.

P.S. I stole this image from the NIH. Green mice = woah!

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