Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jordan and the cage key

My movie son Jordan has an IQ of 60,000, is a brilliant cellist with the New World Symphony, has the intensity and intrigue and weird gorgeousness of a Versace model, but is utterly near sighted when it comes to some ugly things about human nature that plague us all - like jealousy.

Jordan was concerned today about his tendency to get jealous. I told him jealousy is paradoxical – the thing we have in common with everyone while being the thing that can separate us from everyone. I didn’t actually say “paradoxical,” because Tom will push me off my chair if I use words like that, or “enthralled” in normal conversation. I said “interesting.” As tempted as I am to use those words when I talk to Jordan, he is not the slightest bit tempted to hear them.

If I didn’t love my movie son Jordan, I could be jealous about his brilliance. It’s out there on the stage making him principal cellist for the New World. My brilliance doesn’t have knuckles yet.

Such as.

So Jordan, it’s not our job to banish jealousy. It is our job to understand that jealousy goes to the party alone, enters from the outside, meets up with a corresponding emotion on the inside, and then takes a little walk with it in the moonlight, hand in hand, until it falls off a cliff and takes you with it.

It’s metaphor Thursday.

Jealousy is Travis. It's bossy and big and will pretend to get along with the other healthy operating emotions like: love, humor, gratitude, confidence and faith. But it doesn’t. It can’t. It’s trying to kill them. It’s 200 times stronger and if it gets near the other emotions, it will maul them. Jealousy belongs in its cage at all times. It's not meant to be domesticated.

If someone lets jealousy out, they need to be the one who puts it back with a clean diaper on. If your love person flirts with another to make you jealous, or compliments someone on something you wish you had/could get/will never get, they must be the one to put the jealousy back.

If you are the one who tries but fails to attract extra attention, or takes your love person’s casual curiosity about someone too seriously, or says something like “what’s the thing you find least attractive about me,” then you have to do it. Jealousy happens when something or someone illuminates your private shortcomings in the eyes of a person you want to impress. It runs a few laps inside, meets up with envy and regret and by the time you’re ready to spit it out, you’ve made it another person’s fault.

Jealousy also happens when someone acquires something you feel you deserve and want but can't have, or worse, may never get. I feel jealous when someone writes something I wish I'd conceived first or becomes famous for an idea I have scrawled somewhere downstairs on my Someday tablet. I used to hate jealousy, and I still don't love it. But now when I'm jealous, I don't compare my lack of success to someone else's brilliance. I look at my baby brilliance and use the examples of others to show it what it can be when it grows up.

My father told me a joke about a man who repeatedly hits himself in the head with a block. When someone asks him why he says, “because I love how it feels when I stop.” The best thing about putting jealousy away, is the feeling of peace that tippy toes out in its absence.

Remember, Jordan, as well as off-screen children everywhere: As human as it can be to feel jealous you can't bring your jealousy with you to lunches or parties, or the classroom, or the bedroom or the stage because it won't get along with the other feelings you need there, it will eat them. It’s Travis and it needs to go back in its cage. Have you seen the canines on jealousy?

Some things we hope are true, Jordan, are. Jealousy tries to make them untrue. Lock up that cage and break a leg.

xo MM

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