And I thought what a wonderful attitude to possess. And then I wondered if he was lying to me to make himself better. And then I dismissed that thought as unworthy. And then the little green-eyed monster began to mock in earnest.
"He is so very happy" said the monster, "but how are you at the moment?".
"Well" said I, "I am relatively happy".
"Do not dissemble!" he barked.
"I'm not. I'm happy"
"If you say so" said the god, green eyes dripping with cynicism.
"I am. Why shouldn't I be? Eh?"
He smiled, no, he smirked, and said "Only you can know that."
That's when I began the familiar process of comparison. The monster soon would slope away to torment someone else [for which I would be grateful], leaving behind him a slimy trail of innuendo, but he was hard at work on me presently. The odious process kick started itself. Every bit of life and work was examined and found wanting. Although 100 people love me, they love someone else better. Although lots of people like my work, they like the work of other people more. Although I am clever, there are cleverer. Although I am paranoid, some are far more paranoid than I. Everything is fuel for the fire.
When I tell friends and colleagues that this is what I do on a regular, and very self-indulgent, basis, they assume that I am looking for sympathy. They are not wrong. It's an odd kind of sympathy though. I want them to allay my jealousy by telling me how absolutely marvellous I am.
Jealousy is an unquenchable fire which feeds on highly toxic and volatile insecurity. But it also feeds on a realisation that this insecurity is borne of a knowledge that, deep down, there is truth in the suspicion that there is someone more lovable than I, better at my job than I am, cleverer than I and far more dramatically paranoid.
My friend doesn't worry about this stuff any more. He says this state of mind comes with the attainment of a bus pass. Only ten years to go then.