Sunday, April 29, 2012
On the Outside Looking In
That 10th commandment, "You shall not covet . . . " gets to something very deep and very tragic and twisted in human beings. It really means "don't set your heart on having what is not yours to have." Soren Kierkegaard says: "envy is admiration grown sick." It is twisted or perverted admiration. And, envy is in a sense the same thing as coveting what is not yours to have. But, coveting is a little different than envy too. Envy tends to make you angry or even hate another person who has what you want. Coveting what you yearn for and don't have can bring about envy, but it doesn't always bring about envy. Often, coveting what you yearn for and don't have brings about a negative relation internally, within the self. Instead of hating the one who has what you don't have, you turn the hatred inward despising yourself for not being able to be this, or not being able to have that. Maybe that is just hidden envy; I'm not sure. Envy and unfulfilled yearning which are part of the same experience comes when we feel ourselves "on the outside looking in." The Indigo Girls have a song called: "Love Will Come to You" that expresses the longing of human beings for love, and the experience of being "on the outside looking in." At one point in the song, the words are vivid: "my face pressed up against love's glass . . . to see that shiny toy I've been hoping for, the one I never can afford . . . " to express the painful experience of having the desire for intimate love awakened in the heart but never getting there in real life. It is that haunting feeling that comes around for us that what we really long for is just out of reach. And, this feeling comes in different areas of life. In our experience with our work and careers, our experience as parents or spouses as well. Now, I know that sometimes a deep longing is very good and ought to be nurtured even if it is not fulfilled. But, I can't help think that so many of our "deep longings" are created out of some real brokenness and twistedness inside of us. What I am talking about is the tendency of human beings to manufacture a series of dreams that are just out of reach to keep ourselves miserable and in a state of always feeling like we are on the outside looking in. Watching a movie and feeling how wonderful it must be to share a love with another like it is portrayed in the movie, while you've got somebody back in the living room who loves you and would enjoy talking with you and sharing a hug with you right now. Not enjoying the nice place to live that we have because it's not as big and expensive a place as the family next door. Not appreciating the healthy body we have because we don't quite meet the standards for Miss or Mr. Universe. Not appreciating the good job we have because we weren't able to get that promotion we had hoped for. Maybe when we feel like we are on the outside looking in, we ought to take some time to look inside of ourselves. The true longing of human beings is not to live up to some standard in the world outside of us, but to conform ourselves to a mystery deep within us. Now, with regard to that mystery, we may be "on the outside looking in."