Today was a productive day.
I’m glad to be able to say that.
I had probably the weirdest dream I’ve had in a long time last night. I’m not sure what the meaning is. Probably “Don’t eat anything spicy right before bed.”
For what it’s worth, I do kind of enjoy dreaming, when it is fantastic. It’s like a front-row seat at a really surreal theater.
The hate of favourites is only a love of favour. The envy of NOT possessing it, consoles and softens its regrets by the contempt it evinces for those who possess it, and we refuse them our homage, not being able to detract from them what attracts that of the rest of the world. (Maxim 55)François de La Rochefoucauld
Envy is one of my least vices, in part because I’ve always been a little frugal in my tastes and in part because I just find myself to be unusually grateful when I force myself to slow down and look at things.
Of course, I’m probably one of Rochefoucauld’s “favorites” in the sense that I’ve been lucky and fortunate, with a certain amount of prudence learned from others’ examples and a dab of talent that I don’t typically put to good use.
It makes sense then that I shouldn’t be too envious: my main goal is to be my best self, and while I’m not terribly good at that it also stands to reason that most other people are not going to be the best possible version of me and I won’t feel jealous of them.
Though, I will say, going to GenCon and seeing a bunch of other professionals in the games industry gave me perhaps the closest thing to envy I’ve ever had, though I was still more grateful to meet people than I was jealous of their success.
Reading Scum and Villainy (affiliate link), a quite excellent game that I picked up at GenCon, made me a little envious. It’s very similar in many ways to my Waystation Deimos (affiliate link) in terms of mechanics (I think they share some DNA, but I’m not really familiar with how Blades in the Dark and the Resistance system are related) but they have a lot of great ideas that I never even thought of, so I’m just a wee bit jealous of them.
Of course, that’s more of a “Oh hey, you had the idea I wanted to have” moment and I think there’s some room for healthy expression there. It’s not necessarily that one is envious, one learns from the masters.
What I think Rochefoucauld is getting at is when people become bitter over the differences between them in a social sense. Certainly I know people who seem to have had more success for their efforts than I have, and I think that this is a pretty common experience in the human condition.
Jordan Peterson once said something about comparing yourself to other people, and he pointed out that in every person’s life by the time they’re thirty you’re going to be able to draw something like a dozen different axes of comparison between you and them.
For every one in which you’re inferior, there’s probably one in which you’re superior.
And that overlooks the fact that any inferiority may be your own fault. Right now I’m not a famous or successful writer or game designer, but that may be as much due to my own skills as to any lack of exposure and networking.
If you seem inferior to someone in every way, perhaps the best response is to admire them instead of envying them. It will give you the clarity to pursue the same path that they walk, and adapt it to your own way intelligently and without deceit. It enables you to have conversations openly and without the desire to score points and inflict wounds, which makes you much more pleasant to be around.
Admire those who do what I wish to do better than I do.
Compare on multiple points, or don’t compare at all.