One day in your life, or perhaps every day, you will discover that someone has succeeded in the exact avenue in which you desire to succeed. Said usurper of your dreams might be a friend or a nemesis; perhaps they are a ghost who lives inside Twitter making up facts about themselves designed exclusively to rile you (i.e., Sooo excited President Obama is reading my new book! I made four million dollars today). Whatever space they haunt, you will require methods of handling the intense uncharitable feelings these creatures invoke in you. Here are some that work for me:
- Visit an antique store in a hidden alleyway in Paris in the rain. In the store, you will find a heavy wooden box, dusty and locked, encrusted with jewels. In a language that you shouldn’t understand, but do, the owner of the shop will tell you the key for the box was lost in the war. What war? The Crimean War. But you touch the box and it opens. The shopkeeper’s eyes grow wide and she throws you out of the shop with the box, because the prophecy has come true. “What prophecy?” you ask her, and she responds, but you suddenly no longer understand her. Don’t worry; she probably made that part up. Out on the street, pour your uncharitable feelings into the box. Then throw the box into the sea. (Alternately: keep the box in your home. Make a lot of martinis. When someone succeeds in the exact avenue you wish to succeed, throw the martini in their face and then squeeze the glass until it breaks, letting your blood run into the box. Wait until the box is full to the brim with blood, and then throw it into the sea.)
- Using ancient magic, transform the hateful energy you carry around like a knot inside your chest into an eagle. Your hate eagle will be grand and majestic, but she will also be very violent toward small children. After she claws out a neighborhood boy’s left eye, escape on your hate eagle’s back. Fly to Nepal, Bermuda, Kentucky. Wherever. Hide in the mountains. Write down all your uncharitable feelings on pieces of paper; use the paper to create a campfire. Teach your hate eagle to sing Old Earth songs (“I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Mercedes Benz,” “The Way” by Fastball); sing them while eating hot dogs. Your hate eagle is the only being on Earth who truly understands you, but she was not made for this planet. Hold onto her talons and let her fly you both to the farthest reaches of space. Set her free. She will dip her beak to your ear and tell you a secret about believing in yourself. But then she will bite off your ear. Float back to Earth—this will take one million years.
- Bury the hatchet with your friend/nemesis/Twitter ghost by baking them a celebratory cake. The cake can be any flavor except vanilla, but traditionally, it is gingerbread. It should be a complicated recipe that takes upward of nine hours. When it is cooled, discover that you have no desire to give the successful person this cake. Instead, carve a little tunnel into the cake and climb inside. You will find there a micro-community where you are hailed as a god. Live there for the rest of your days, or until you have eaten the entire cake from the inside—whichever happens first.
- Do not compare yourself with others. Do not equate the success of another person with your own failure. Sometimes this is the case, but often success yields further success. In any case, you will never be rich enough; you will never be famous enough; you will never be beloved enough. The same is true for your nemesis. All any of us can do is work hard and believe in our work and hope someone out there comes to believe in it too. Take deep breaths. Unfollow your Twitter ghost. You’ll be okay. (Note: success rate of this is extremely low.)
How do you deal with your uncharitable feelings toward the success of others? This is a rhetorical question, obviously, as I have just covered in detail all known methods.