This afternoon I spent my lunch break as I spend most of my lunch breaks—I took my adorable, feisty, friendly, handful-and-a-half puppy Bandit for a walk, heated up leftovers, and sat at my work desk, eating a fairly healthy meal while perusing the Internet. I work from home, 300-plus miles away from my coworkers and a 25-minute bus ride away from downtown where my boyfriend and most of my friends work. Lunch with my friends gives me only about a ten-minute eating window, and the rest of my lunch break is then spent on a bus.
Today I browsed “The Bold Italic,” where I was met with one of the greatest blog series I’ve read in recent months: four-year-old children reviewing San Francisco fine dining. The results are brilliant.
And a little infuriating. Here I was, stuck on what to write for my own blog post, and someone else came up with a fantastic idea. How adorable would it have been to parade a couple of toddler graduates into the Mustang office and have them review the latest collateral we created for clients? What a great blog post that would have made, or series of blog posts, or e-blasts, or a video. Great fun. Great publicity. Great idea.
Vanquished. Used up. Already put out into the world to be admired by others. Not mine.
I’m met with this emotion often—from creative meetings at work to reading fiction from famous authors or friends to walking into unfamiliar apartments for the first time. There’s always a tagline or a plot twist or an artfully composed shelf that vibrates with that good-idea sensation, a feeling that rides around in my mind, like a freewheeling motorcycle. This motorcycle, however, is saddled with a sidecar: jealousy.
It’s schadenfreude’s mortal enemy: witnessing the success of others’ innovations. Fortunately, the feeling is fleeting (unless it’s a really, really, really good idea), and everything moves on. The good idea becomes either a permanent fixture and you get used to it, or it’s fleeting and you get over it. But what is left in its dusty, war-torn wake either way is something rather wonderful: inspiration.
And fortunately for me, that feeling is not nearly as fleeting, and is far more useful.