Envy and the Free Fall
Just an overheard conversation. The result: envy. Of an illusion. I overhear the conversation between the woman I founded my company with and a friend of hers. “You are going to move back to Berlin in a few months? Why don’t you stay with me? For a couple of days until you find something. Or permanently.” Her answer: “Sure, if I don’t find something, I’ll consider it. Let’s talk later about the that other thing you had suggestions on.” Of course, she didn’t say “that other thing.” I just can’t remember what it is. Something I don’t have any interest in, so it slipped my mind before I could even commit it to short term memory. The result of this short exchange: envy. This friend believes, this very minute, that she might move in with him. He has a crush on her. She tells me freely about theses things. In fact, almost every male person she meets develops a crush on her. She is the most open-hearted person. In our time and age, this kind of attention is too much for most people. They just can’t handle it and can’t understand and categorise the feelings they have in return. At least men can’t. The only way they can think of of ever getting close to another person is romantic love. Or maybe a psychotherapist. Consequently, they think that there is a bond of romantic love between her and them. It may be love but not the romantic kind. When I speak of them, of course, first and foremost what I mean is: I. I can’t see what is going on inside other people, I am lucky enough to have a good understanding of what I myself am feeling and thinking at most points. I am exceptionally lucky in this. It made it easy to see that what I feel towards her is not romantic love. Only after she pointed it out but nevertheless, I was able to see it. This had been almost clear to me beforehand and then there was no doubt about it. Yet there is envy when I hear the conversation between her and this friend. I am pretty sure that they won’t end up falling in love. Probably neither one of them. And even if they do, I really don’t care. She isn’t my type and even if she was I know that a single one night stand could easily split our company and crash our startup. No, I am not envious of what might happen between them. I don’t even think it is possible to be envious about something that hasn’t happened yet. What one can be envious about, however, is a feeling. This guy feels that he has met the woman of his dreams and that would move in with him. He wants to be close to her and he believes, he really believes that all of his problems will be solved as long as he can stay as close to her as possible. At least, that’s what I like to think about what his thoughts and feelings are. Maybe they aren’t. Unless he is strongly motivated by the fear of loneliness, these probably aren’t his thoughts. Until some time ago, I was very strongly motivated by just this fear. It felt great meeting someone and believing that this one person will be able to stop all of these fears. To suddenly have this one handhold to cling to and stop the free-fall that is our post-modern electronically connected and emotionally disconnected society. I have often experienced this for weeks and months. Not with my co-founder but with other women. Invariably I understood that they couldn’t be that one hand-hold for me. They were all in free-fall themselves. I think I knew that each time from the very beginning. Nevertheless, it was a sweet and addictive drug to think that they were my handhold. That worked best we had fixed a meeting quite a bit of time in advance because of her own or my absence. Distance allows fantasy to take over and push nasty reality away for a while. And it felt good to have this handhold and to hold onto it. Only then came the time we had fixed for our meeting and reality took over. I opened my eyes to look at the handhold and see that is attached not to solid and immobile wall of rock but to a small boulder that is falling just as fast as I am. Because of its density this boulder is making me fall faster because I am clinging to it. Maybe, I am not even envious. For that guy things are probably much different. For one thing, he probably hasn’t even realised yet that he is free fall, he probably never will. And he is all the happier for it. No, it is nostalgia. Nostalgia for the time where I had my eyes closed, firmly grasping a handhold attached to a boulder and believing that the free fall has finally stopped. Alas, at this time in my life I feel unable to close my eyes to reality. I wish that wasn’t the case.