Human nature; that of a giant rock and my own.

Envy.

What a useless emotion. You can’t use it as motivating force. You can’t build or repair anything with it. It’s the leech of all emotions. And yet it’s an ingrained part of our human nature. Why hasn’t it been phased out via genetic selection? I just read an article that said the DNA of cockroaches has been altered so that sweetness is no longer an appealing flavor to them. They figured out that poisons are baited with sweetness, so over a few generations their molecular structure changed and they now avoid anything sweet. Brilliant! Why hasn’t envy been genetically torn out by its roots?

I walk up 6th Avenue and it seems that everyone swirling around me, darting in and out of expensive hotels and restaurants, riding by in hansom cabs, well manicured, well dressed, youthful, are all more successful, smarter, happier, together than I can ever hope to be.

I went to the drug store next to Carnegie Hall to buy eye drops. The druggist was chatting with a very pretty lady in front of me. They knew each other. She lives upstairs in Carnegie Towers. She’s back in New York from her home in St. Moritz. It wasn’t a boastful conversation. It was all perfectly civilized. They exchanged pleasantries. Seemed genuinely happy to see one another after a long separation. I felt a hole open in the floor and swallow me.

As I get older I realize that certain things are never going to happen for me. I envy the young and their wonderful naïve sense of limitlessness. I know this is all a terrible illusion but I have to acknowledge it. It’s a whispering voice. Human nature.

I feel the sense of possibility
I fee the wrench of hard reality
The focus is sharp in the city.

Peart

*     *     *

My human nature feels a lot like Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature exhibit looks. (Now through July 7th at Rockefeller Center.)

photo 111

Nine giant stone figures stand sentinel in the plaza.

photo 4[1]

There’s something beautiful, sad and majestic about them.

photo 2[1]

photo 3[1]

Each stone weighs around 30,000 pounds. They had to do an engineering study to insure that the exhibit didn’t crash through the sidewalk.

30 Rock, indeed.

photo 2

31 thoughts on “Human nature; that of a giant rock and my own.

  1. They’re not all happier than you. Some of them are, but it’s probably not because of their material possessions. The Dalai Lama is happy, and what does care about expensive restaurants and hotels, and homes in St. Moritz? Those sculptures remind me of cartoon characters who get hollowed out between their legs after an accident.

    • It’s not about the material possessions. It’s not about the STUFF. It’s never about the STUFF. It’s the ability to own two homes if you chose to do so. Anyone who owns a home in St. Moritz and another above Carnegie Hall isn’t climbing on a fucking bus at 5:30 in the morning with a lot of other anesthetized drones and then sitting in an office all day. The wealthy have something I can’t possess: FREEDOM.

  2. These stone figures are quite imposing. In a way they seem emotionless, and yet….. There they stand in all their recognizable steadfastness….it is spooky, but there IS a very Human quality to them.Envy is a real wasted emotion–But, an understandable one, too—Damn It!It is hard not to feel envy in certain situations—particularly that feeling of “I will never have this”, whatever “THIS” my be….To Each His Own…….What an amazing piece of information about the Cockroach…….But, of course! They are the great and ultimate survivors! They say, after every other living species has died out—The Cockroach will still be here! I believe it!

    • The figures are even more imposing when standing next to them. Some people hug them. Others try to push them over. It’s an interactive exhibit, and a quite successful one at that.Yes, I need my THIS but I’ll not have it. Not in this lifetime. Two things are forever: cockroaches and Cher.

  3. check out the video on my blog today, sweet pea. isn’t it a good thing we have our blogs to say these things and get them out of our heads? envy is part of human nature. hell, honey, i envy you because you’re in NYC! ;~) i wouldn’t live there, but i do wish i could visit whenever i wanted. xoxoxoxoi do love the juxtaposition of the cop/security guard next to that sculpture! they seem to be standing in attention!

    • I don’t envy the wealthy, per se, as much as I envy their freedom. They get to move in a any direction that interests them. There are a ton of things I’d love to do in this life, but none of them are money-making ventures. That’s what I wish I had. The home in St. Moritz is a McGuffin. When I was in high school I was an usher in a movie theater. Nothing more slack than standing in the back of a movie house and watching films all day. The ushers used to let the candy counter girl’s friends in for free and they’d give our friends free candy. One Saturday, the owner brought in a lie detector, tested and then fired the lot of us. That was the end of my career in show biz. :-/

  4. UB, money does not buy you happiness my friend, it buys you choice. Riches are found in family and friends and health. Measure your own success the next time you walk into a room and you are greeted by people who are pleased to see you and not your wallet. Do you remember the scene in ‘Pretty Woman’ where she has the sales eejit sucking up to her because she has wealth? Well take it from me, it eventually lowers your views on human nature and makes you question who the genuine people really are in life.Nice stone figures by the way, I’d like to place two of them at the entrance to my driveway.

    • I know it doesn’t buy happiness but I’ve always wanted those options and freedoms laid out in front of me. It’s not going to happen and I think I’m in mourning over the grim realization.I’ll bet you ARE a stone figure when standing at the entrance to your driveway.

  5. I get your point, but having anything laid out too easily takes the pleasure of the anticipation away. Anything can happen, keep the faith.Tell you what, use your contacts to get me those figures and I’ll send you something that will take your mind off what you haven’t got.Deal?

  6. You’re quoting Rush lyrics just for me, aren’t you.Thank you for showing those photos of Rock Center, because I have no interest in braving the throngs of tourists to see that stuff myself. Do you work in the Burlington Building? I know it hasn’t been called that in ages but it will always be the Burlington Building to me. Just like that monstrosity on Park Avenue will always be the Pan Am building. Hearing an exchange like the one you heard would have made me burst into flames. Sometimes I get so consumed with envy, I’m afraid I’m going to liquify several vital organs. Yeah, I should accept my situation in life, because it isn’t a bad one by any means, but knowing that some people just HAVE, and in spades, is enough to make me put my shrink on speed dial.

    • Well, I had you in mind. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?The secret, which is reflected in my photos, is to get there at the ungodly hour of 6:30 a.m. You have the entire plaza to yourself except for the idiots mugging in front of the Today Show windows, who are easily avoided.I do work in the Burlington Building, although it’s not called that any longer and hasn’t been for quite some time. You are a savvy, knowledgeable New Yorker and are also dating yourself. I’ll reveal publicly what I’ve said offline: I am SO FUCKING JEALOUS of your blog. Look at you. Your current post, posted yesterday, by the way, has 173 comments! Sure, you’re a good writer, but what the fuck is that!? Do prisoners have your URL?

    • So what if prisoners have my URL? They’re a captive audience, what else are they going to do with their time? And they’ve taught me how to make a shiv out of literally any household item. So it’s a win-win. And I know I’m dating myself, but that’s because I’m old.

  7. One of the greatest freedoms (and it sometimes takes a lifetime to realise it!)is the freedom to think, to set your goals, whatever they may be.A friend of mine had a house near St Moritz.So damned expensive he rented it for a few years, then sold it and buggered off on a not-very-flash boat.He also had an ex-wife and a son he never saw.Love those standing stones!

  8. How the other half live eh? I always wonder ” How did they do that? How did they get there? What did they of differently ?” Probably shagged a millionaire.We need envy. It makes us drive toward success! Anyway, must shoot, I’m off to my villa in

  9. we all make choices. i choose to drive the shittiest of shitty automobiles, and i dress like a bag lady (thrift store clothing is perfectly fine, i tell you). i have underwear that is held togehter with three or four cotton molecules… my cash? it goes to travel, local charities, and farting around… oh, and booze. i’m lucky to have the freedom (ie: grown children and stable job) that allowed me these choices.but what brings me the most joy? being in moments. connections with humans. knowing that there’s a clock over my head – ticking more loudly every day. and knowing that when my heart stops, the ride ends.sure, i envy the uber-wealthy – because they can do what i do, and a LOT more of it. but i’m not willing to do what it takes to get that. cheers! see you soon! wanna see the Rock center Rocks in a couple weeks!

    • Mrs. Wife and I live frugally as well. I wish I could drive a new BMW instead of my 10-year old Subaru. But the flip side of that coin is that by living below our means, we don’t carry any debt. We don’t owe shit to anyone. It’s liberating. But I’d like the liberation of a debt-free life coupled with the freedom to get a new BMW if I choose. And can’t I have the human connection with the wealth? Not untold billions. Just enough to be comfortable. Just enough to annoy my children and chase my wife’s tail in the middle of the day instead of sit in a office. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes, our choices make us. It’s a fact.

  10. They say money is the root of all evil; I never believed that until I worked for my old boss Mr. W. He was wealthy had a successful business; his children took advantage of him he ended up in a nursing home with dementia once he passed away his kids drove his business to bankruptcy. He was a successful engineer worked for NASA climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro twice-once when he was 70; that is success not his money.Then you have my most recent (and no longer) boss the big J….you have heard the horror stories about her. She owns a home in Florida, one here in town and a nice ass camper on a campsite. Her happiness is to make other people miserable; envious of her money-no way. I am surrounded with family and friends who love me and now the summer off what more could one want? Guess I am just going to have to come see you and spend a day with my awesome brother and help you shake this off. It’s been too long since it was just the two of us spending time together.MT

  11. Love the stone giants.Do you know envy is something that plays little part in my life these days – and when it does I’m envious of people who I see who are grounded, serene, at peace, happy etc. The guy who bounds up to tell me about his new Audi A6 is wasting his time – it’s a car, it gets you for A to B, I’m happy you are happy but if you expect me to be jealous of you or respect you more now you have this automotive goalpost achieved well, sorry, that is highly unlikely!

    • You are an evolved man. I’ll get there someday—I know I will—but it’s so bloody hard. All day long I’m surrounded by “success” stories. (Success in quotes because it’s a moveable feast and deep down I know what success is.) But NYC is choked with the accomplished. It’s impossible to ignore.

  12. Have you read Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha? You remind me of him. Like Furtheron I’ve done with envy. I think it’s nothing more than getting to the age where you realise you’ve had your chance. I used to say, ‘one day…’ all the time, now I know I’ll never have a stone floored house in the south of France, or a New York Brownstone, and I’ll never wear Chanel couture, and it’s rather liberating. I no longer need to try. Those rock men rock.

    • I haven’t read ANY Herman Hesse! Is that a good place to start?You guys are so together. I’m confident that one day I’ll rid myself of this scourge. Envy. I only hope I don’t teach it to my daughters. What an awful legacy that would be to pass down.

  13. It’s the only one I’ve read so far, I did buy a copy of Steppenwolf from a charity shop but when I opened it I found the first thirty pages were missing. Luckily Dave seems to have his whole output so I hope to make a start on them soon. For him Narcissus and Goldmund is one of the best books ever written.I think as long as we live in a world where we are driven to compete for the nebulous notion ‘success’ envy is going to be part of being. The whole culture is teaching it to your daughters, not just you.

Vent Central:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s