On Jealousy

Jealousy is a tricky beast.

One part of me wants to think maybe it’s healthy to be jealous. It means you care about someone. Jealousy means you care so much about another person that you want to know where they are, who they’re with, what they’re doing. You care so much that you don’t want them to be with anyone but you, in any sense of the term.

But that’s naive. That’s the rationalization of someone who can’t stand to lose control. When you love someone, it’s a natural urge to want to control them, to own them. You want to keep them close. Keep them there, with you, where they’ll never be out of reach again. But people can’t be tied down that way, and in that fact, there’s conflict.

You love someone, and you want to possess them. But to possess them, truly, you have to let them go. You have to let them be free to love or not to love. You have to give them the freedom to go and the freedom to return. Love is like a fire… Smother it, and it fizzles out. Too much space, likewise, will extinguish it. It takes a careful touch. A gentle guiding hand in the dark, letting the flame grow into what it desires to be. Love is a force, in that way. Any attempt to dominate it is suicidal. Nature are love are beasts which refuse to be tamed.

Jealousy is this impulse we all have to smother the flame, to keep it close and burning bright in our arms until it finally dies a slow, asphyxiated death. As humans, we desire to control the elements, to control our own destiny. But in matters of love, we must relinquish control and simply trust in the nature of things. That’s a hard step for a lot of people to take.

We don’t want to lose control. Acceptance of powerlessness, submission to the overwhelming dominance of natural forces… These notions frighten us. But truth lies behind that fear, and sometimes the realization of truth requires extreme circumstances.

Imagine yourself huddled in the midst of a rainstorm, the wind pelting your face, cold bullets of rain soaking deep into your very being. You shiver there in your meager shelter, the cold and rain and wind penetrating you down to your core. And you have two choices… You can accept this fact, that you are where you are, and that you are no longer in control. Or, you may rage against nature, curse God for bringing this storm to bear against you, and wish that things weren’t the way they are.

Many people seem to choose the second option, there, amid their daily storms. People simply can’t accept that things are the way they are… Sometimes love fails. Sometimes people die. Sometimes the rain comes down so hard there’s just no escaping it. That’s life. There are some things that simply cannot be controlled.

One of the happiest moments of my life was huddled down in the middle of a rainstorm. A literal rainstorm, not the metaphorical one I’ve illustrated for you above. No, this was very real, and very wet, and very cold.  I huddled there, the freezing water slowly soaking deeper and deeper… and I couldn’t help but laugh.

I laughed and laughed, and just smiled this idiot grin for the rest of the storm until the sun finally came up. Because in surrender, in acceptance of powerlessness, there’s a paradoxical power. We accept this nature, this fact, and somehow it doesn’t have the same power over us any more.

Life is funny that way, sometimes.

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