The many dangers of being envious

I don’t often wrestle with the unhealthy affliction of envy.
Not being envious certainly has nothing to do with having an honourable disposition. The reasons are simple and straightforward: I didn’t grow up hungry, I was loved and safe at night, and I had clothes to wear and shoes that fit.
Envy had no place, no starting point. But (and all too often there is a but so it seems) I have another confession. Envy struck me the other day during a home inspection, in the strangest of places and circumstances, knocked me down without notice or warning. And I can’t shake its firm hold on me.
There. I’ve said it. I’ve confessed to yet another chink in my battle-weary armour. I’m not proud of it, I assure you, but I was in a state of “oh so badly wanting something.”
A home inspector walked in carrying a two-foot by three-foot piece of equipment. I may have gasped as I collapsed on to the sofa. It was yellow (the equipment, not the sofa) and you can never go wrong with yellow. Never. That may have heightened my urge to grab the yellow thing and run from the house never to be seen again.
It was a telescopic ladder weighing no more than 30 pounds.
The inspector put the ladder down in front of him and with incredible ease, he extended the ladder up to 12-and-a-half feet. I was breath-taken. When I extend my telescopic ladder, I look like I’m auditioning for some ridiculous part in a Charlie Chaplin silent film and I often use bad language and do a whole lot of groaning, struggling with my balance, and leaning this way and that; my shoulders aching.
But this ladder that stood before me was a work of art, and I’m still dreaming of it and making a list of all the reasons why I should have one. And there isn’t a single entry on the side of the page that says I don’t need one.
I was driving to the grocery store just today (because my refrigerator looks like it belongs to Old Mother Hubbard). But all I could think of was that beautiful yellow ladder and how I was willing to go without food for the rest of my life just to have one.
I’m often citing my lack of need for “things.” Oh, how the noble fall. A ladder definitely falls into the category of “things.” But in fairness to me, I will need a ladder to stain the siding of my house. I will need a ladder to clean out the gutters on my eaves. I will need a ladder to climb a tree to hang my clothesline.
I will need a ladder to be on the lookout for enemy vessels in the lake. Okay, that last one might be a stretch, with a bit of creative licence. But I’m thinking back to 1782 when three French ships sailed into Hudson’s Bay to the mouth of the Churchill River and took Fort Prince of Wales from Samuel Hearne without so much as a fuss.
Had Hearne a ladder extending above the fort’s wall, his men might have warned him and shouted the French are coming, the French are coming. And though they were only 39 strong against the 300 Frenchmen, the story may have had a different outcome had there been a ladder–a yellow telescopic ladder.
So in view of that, a ladder is never a frivolous thing. Every fort I ever built or imagined building when I was a kid had a ladder in it, and I could never have imagined one that collapsed so easily into something to carry away in one hand.
If only.
wendistewart@live.ca

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