I was recently sent Class Notes from my elementary school. Sort of. See, 99% of my elementary school friends went on to a particular middle and high school, whereas I went elsewhere. My parents figure I enjoy checking in on my third grade playmates and thus thoughtfully send me the Class Notes from their high school. One classmate in particular, my best friend in third grade, was recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal for a major position he’s undertaken.
First, a note on Class Notes in general.
Here’s something I’m wondering why we don’t ever see. In between
“Jason Tishburn writes to us from New York. He heads up Morgan Stanley’s Big, Big Money Private Equity Unit. He bet against mortgage-backed securities in 2008. Go Jason!”
“Kevin Yancy has a new documentary coming out based on his best-selling memoir: “Being Kevin Yancy, M.D.Ph.D. Beyond the Letters”
how come we never see:
Ted Vettis is trying a new antidepressant his therapist believes may cut down on sexual side effects. He’s hoping this one shows better results, and soon.
Wouldn’t that be a little bit refreshing? Is it just Special People who hate reading about how married/dream-fulfilled/child-blessed every classmate of theirs is, even the ones who seemed a total wreck in school? Or is it everyone? I think probably everyone.
Secondly, about my friend. Tom was my best bud in third grade. We played all sorts of games together. Some of them were on the normal side, like trading baseball cards and drawing our own make believe ones. Some were loco–as in Gingrich Moon colony loco. We developed a society of creatures, the Sheelies, who lived in Seattle, and the Boolies who lived in Boston. The Sheelies were big green creatures with large snouts who were generally happy and wished ill on no one. But the Boston Boolies were a constant menace. The Sheelies and the Boolies were always doing battle, and we’d always root for the Sheelies. To this day I think of Boston as a dark place.
Being at different middle and high schools, we rarely saw each other. One time we met up in high school at a college fair. Tom was snippy with me, seeming to have a chip on his shoulder. Later I found out that he had hit on some rough times during high school. He ended up going to a state school, while I went to an elite Ivy. But now, many years later, here I was, in my boxers, reading about how wonderful my sandbox playmates were doing–above all my Sheelies and Boolies partner–profiled in the Wall Street Journal.
And lo…there surrounding him, rose up a cloud of jealousy. Like buzzing bees–impossible to ignore, dangerous, unshakable. I thought about it. And I shook my head: at my friend who had struggled through high school but now was soaring; at me who had soared through high school and was now struggling; how I wanted to be happy for him, but couldn’t.
It’s in times like these that we must confront Specialness dead on. It’s perhaps too high an aim to wish to be happy or proud of our friends when we’re in the midst of the jealousy bees. But we don’t have to sit there letting them eat us to death either. When we feel this way–the jealousy, the comparisons, the what ifs, the only healthy reaction is to double down on what we’re doing, whether that be fact checking at a magazine, grading papers, writing board-game question cards, copy editing, whatever we happen to be doing at the moment–double down. Throw ourselves into it. Be inspired that hard work can be its own reward.
Fight jealousy with action. Fighting it with thoughts never works! Oh, and next time, if the bees are around, don’t read the Class Notes.