alt=a man closes his eyes, jealous of the active people in silhouette around him.

Jealousy: A Confession

I confess - sometimes I am jealous of other people’s good health. I want those arms that have shoulders that can swing like windmills or reach objects more than 6 inches away.

I want those legs that can stand steady, walk distances, and after some rest, walk even more. Imagine that!

Sometimes, it takes the form of low expectations

Perhaps more deeply, I’m jealous of not waking up from a night’s sleep still exhausted. Or not having aching bones that pretty much never feel relief.

I’m jealous of mundane abilities like being able to go grocery shopping and reach items on upper shelves. Or being able to bend and pick something up from the floor. Or walking - just plain walking without planning out the distance and worrying if they can make it to the next chair.

Jealousy - a place I may visit, but cannot stay

It may surprise people, though, that my jealousy is fleeting and rare. I actually don’t feel this way very often or for long.

I just can’t live there. I can’t live in sadness and regret because it would prevent me from living my actual life (which I very much enjoy!).

Curious about how others feel in their bodies

It’s actually, in truth, more of questioning: I wonder what that’s like? I have memories in my childhood of walking further than I can now, but it was never easy and that’s what I remember.

I see myself looking down at my feet to will them to move and not let me fall. I don’t remember ever being able to twirl my arms. My earliest memories include struggles with picking up items from the floor and even practicing that in my physical therapy sessions.

So, it’s honestly more of a curiosity than jealousy. It’s just about unfathomable to me. How do other bodies do these things? So maybe my jealousy is more akin to awe. I ask: How is it even possible (cue the Rocket Raccoon voice)?

Reality returns to the rescue

But it is just a moment and I go back to my reality, to my way of living and doing things, because it is my actuality. It is in the here and now and must be managed or negotiated just as tomorrow will be.

There’s no sense in me wasting time and energy on what is basically the imaginary, the made-up world of what I see other bodies doing.

Treasure health as the gift it is

However, there are times when I honestly struggle with anger when I see these bodies being wasted or ill-used. I get mad when people don’t live fully, to whatever that is for them. I get angry when bodies are abused or neglected or not appreciated. How do I explain? It’s like being given a gift and then throwing it in the trash.

I don’t mean eating too many cookies or not exercising enough. What angers me is the extreme cases of people who are healthy (or relatively so) and don’t live their life. Like watching TV all the time instead of going out in nature or traveling. Or being strong and capable, but not offering to help others (instead, watching as I struggle to reach that milk in the case at the grocery store).

Making the most of what I have

To me, wasting health on nothing or selfishness may be one of the worst things a person could do. We are only alive for a short time; we need to make the most of whatever time and abilities we have.

That’s why I’m constantly thinking about making the most of what I have. What can I do to help others? What can I do to experience life, even if it is as simple as taking a walk with my husband (or rolling beside him in my wheelchair) on a nice day to enjoy the world?

In this way, jealousy turns into a gift that I can use well to appreciate my own treasured life.

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