Monday, April 18, 2011
Recently I had cause to ask a good friend for advice about a problem in my life that had been troubling me.
I laid it all out for him pretty honestly and asked for his advice about how I should handle the situation. I was hoping for something like, well, whatever the opposite of tough love is. I wanted him to pat me on the head and say something like "don't worry so much", "nobody's perfect" or "it'll all work out, you silly sausage."
Instead he surprised me. His response, distinctly unsugarcoated went something like this: "Don't be so fucking greedy." He might not have said the "fucking" part but I think it was definitely implied.
I'd never thought of myself as greedy before. It sounds like such an unappealing way to describe anyone, suggesting a lack of self control that made me think of an obese middle-aged woman stuffing buns into her gob, one after the other after the other after the other while new rolls of fat form on her thighs and drip down the sides of her body. And yet the more I thought about it the more I realised that greedy is exactly how I would - or should - describe myself. Like a typical bloody Generation Y-er I want everything and I want it all the time. Immediately. I want to be able to write books and yet I also want the money that comes from a day job of writing stuff I'm not, let's be honest, exactly passionate about. I want to look good in a slutty dress but I also want to eat those hot chips and have that second glass of wine. I want all the lovely security and fun that comes from my delightful long term relationship but I also lust after random boys on the street like some sex-crazed teenager.
My friend's advice, to stop being so greedy, should have made me feel like shit, probably. But instead it cheered me up. Thinking about it I can see that I've always bordered on greedy when it comes to food and alcohol, for instance. But because I don't want to be fat or become an alcoholic I fight against my impulse to gorge on both and there's something weirdly comforting about the potential for applying this same moderation to the rest of my life. If I can't have it all (say the chips and the wine) then I need to decide what I want more (uh, do you need to ask?).
It's pretty pedestrian as far as epiphanies go but, meh, it cheered me up. For some bizarre reason it also made me think of a lovely Woody Allen quote, whose origins I forget.
"Can we actually 'know' the universe? My God, it's hard enough finding your way around Chinatown."
P.S: I found this picture just by typing "greed" into google search but in hindsight how fucking creepy does this kid look? Jesus Christ, imagine having THAT claw its way out of your womb?!