A few weeks ago in Roatan, I was chatting with a very nice American cruising couple. Their boat is bigger, fancier and cushier than ours. They shared that they had left their sailboat in Panama and spent the rainy season home in San Francisco.
NOTE: Our hot, humid, stormy, waterlogged, lightning-filled rainy season in Central America = their temperate, sunny summer in San Francisco.
After the Central American rainy season was over, they flew out of San Francisco just as the first cold fog bank of the winter rolled over the bay -- arriving in the Caribbean for months of stress-free high season cruising.
They then shared that they were looking at a small motor home to keep at their place in San Francisco -- the better to tool around the states during the summer in air-conditioned comfort before flying back to the Caribbean again for the winter.
Listening and nodding my head, I actually said:
"Well. Look at you..."
Yikes. I couldn't believe those words came out of my mouth. I was truly shocked. And I said it with all of the sarcastic inflection you can imagine, too.
Envy is the 6th of the Deadly Sins, and it's the 9th of the 10 Commandments. So you know it's pretty damaging.
While I'm prone to many character defects, I've always prided myself in not swimming in that envy pool for long. I know how toxic it can be, so I've worked hard to free myself of the emotion whenever it emerged.
For example, Chris and I don't have children, and I've long ago realized that living a good life is possible with children, and it's possible without children. It's apples and oranges.
I've realized that spending quality time with children who are not my own -- while obviously not the same thing as being a mother -- can nonetheless be a potent source of joy and laughter, and yes -- meaning.
Me and my little friend Darien, whose Mom runs "The Shack" in Placencia Village
So before this trip, I thought I had pretty much checked envy off the list of sins I needed to worry about. I thought I had it under control. I was wrong.
I'm finding myself knee deep in jealousy every time I hear about another cruiser who has the financial freedom to fly back and forth from Canada or the states to the Caribbean at least a couple of times a year.
They fly from the good weather up there (and family and friends) -- to the good cruising weather down here. They never experience the extreme cold of Canadian winters, or the extreme heat/rain/lightning/humidity of Central American summers.
They've got it all going on.
Yes. I'm jealous, dammit. Who wouldn't be?
So what is the secret to "melting" that evil green emotion?
Well we all know the answer, deep down. Gratitude, humility, and the perspective that follow are the answer to all great human failings, including jealousy.
Obviously, despite the fact that we have sacrificed much and worked incredibly hard to be here, Chris and I are deeply fortunate to experience this grand adventure.
And you know what? While yes, having the $$$ to be able to fly back and forth from great weather/big house here, to great weather/big boat there is probably a comfortable, relaxing way to live, let's face it: they're missing out on real life.
Truth be told, after 16 months in Central America, Chris and I really miss the snow. We miss the seasons. And when I really analyze it, would I really want that other life? Flying from comfort to comfort?
Well. Maybe for a season or two. (smile)
But in the end, I choose OUR life. Those difficult months aboard Espiritu during the rainy season (and the lightning strike) were an experience I would never trade.
So, we're only human. The green-eyed monster will never go away completely.
But if I work at it, he materializes in a gentler, happier apparition.