I read pages 1-54 of Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story last night. I had a difficult time getting into it, to tell you the truth, but I’ll persevere and hope that I start to like it better over time. I’ll also note something that stands out to me each time that I read it. Last night, what stood out to me was something that Lisey was thinking about Roger Dashmiel, an academic colleague of her late husband, the renowned author Scott Landon:
“Lisey thought Dashmiel had somehow believed their positions would have been reversed in a truer, fairer world; that he, Roger Dashmiel, would have been the focus of the intellectual interest and student adulation, while Scott Landon—-not to mention his mousy little wouldn’t-fart-if-her-life-depended-on-it wife—-would be the ones toiling in the campus vineyards, always currying favor, testing the winds of departmental politics, and scurrying to make the next pay-grade.” This was on pages 25-26. On page 28, Lisey reflects:
“Dashmiel is one of those men who seem older than they are not only because they lost so much hair and gained so much belly but because they insist on drawing an almost stifling gravitas around themselves. Even their witticisms felt to Lisey like oral readings of insurance policy clauses. Making matters worse is the fact that Dashmiel doesn’t like her husband. Lisey has sensed this at once (it’s easy, because most men do like him), and it has given her something on which to focus her unease.”
I can identify with a lot of this. I can see where Dashmiel is coming from. I’m not as supercilious as Dashmiel, I don’t think, but there have been plenty of times when I have thought that, in a fairer world, I would receive more than I am getting, and I look at those who have it so easy and wonder what exactly makes them better than me—-what do they have that I don’t have? Moreover, it’s easy to get jealous when some people have things easy, whereas others have to live in such insecurity—-to use Lisey’s example, currying favor, testing the winds of departmental politics, and scurrying to make the next pay grade.
I suppose that, as I think back, most people I know have had to work hard. They have to make a good impression on people. They have to produce something. But then there are people for whom things come easy, due to charisma they may have, or talent. I think that even they may have some cross to bear, however, and that is a point of this book: that, even though Scott had fame, renown, and adulation, he still had a dark place, which may be depression. (I am not entirely sure yet.) But I try not to make myself feel better by reminding myself that objects of my jealousy are suffering somehow. In my opinion, the way for me to deal with jealousy is for me to realize that I have the cards that I’ve been dealt, to try to do something productive with them, and to be grateful for whatever success I may have, even if it’s not as great as somebody else’s success.