Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash
The room is dark and smells of lavender and peppermint. My massage therapist places a warm towel across the back of my neck, my muscles relax under the heat and my eyes become drowsy. I’ve been on this table many times before. And each time my masseuse would spend the hour-long session gently trying to remove the knots in my back, the tightness in my neck. “You carry your stress here,” she would say while running her knuckles across my shoulders. I know, I would respond in my head. After each session I was sent home with a list of stretches to do, none of which I made time for (too stressed, of course).
But this time is different. As her hands move across my back she says “Wow, your body feels great!” My face beams through the breathing hole it’s cradled in, as if I’m a student receiving praise from my teacher. I think back to only a year ago, when I decided to leave my job as a teacher and be a full-time stay-at-home mom. The difference between the person I was while working and the person I am now is vast. I’ve rediscovered the girl that I used to be, the girl I was fond of. Who loved coffee dates with friends (though it was hot chocolates instead of lattes back then), who dropped everything to watch the sunset, and who had her nose in a book at every opportunity. I’ve stepped out of my head and back into my heart. And my body can thank me for it.
The surprising part of it all is that I’ve largely been guided by envy. But not the envy that resents the curves on the other girl, or makes me twinge with jealousy when I walk into my friend’s gorgeous kitchen (get over it, Andrea). It’s envy that comes from a deeper place. A place in me that longs to be something more than what I am now.
I am so grateful for teachers, and my respect for what they do has only deepened (they are doing what I could not). But I’m not envious of them.
My envy is for the writers. The ones who have moved me with their words, their honesty, their attention to detail in their lives, their wit and their wisdom. Stories have changed me. I’ve been challenged to think differently and have felt less alone. Writing has made me a better person both in the reading and in the making of it.
I know I’m not the only one guided by this emotion. After reading Megan Kelly’s memoir Settle for More I was intrigued to learn that she left her career as a successful attorney to pursue journalism because she envied the reporters she watched on television. Author Glennon Doyle Melton experienced a similar transition. She writes: “We are only envious of those already doing what we were made to do. Envy is a big flashing arrow pointing towards our destiny.”
Well, destiny or not, I’m putting on this writer hat for a while and waiting to see what happens. If nothing else, it’s at least reduced my massage therapy payments.