I Banished Professional Jealousy From My Life
And it’s allowed me to operate from a position of abundance
On my weekly walks with my parents, my dad likes to tell goofy stories, things he picked up over his long life (he’s 82) and wants to share with us. We don’t share the same sense of humor, exactly (he’s prone to puns and I hate them, say), so I usually listen with half an ear, trying to exercise my patience now that I’m old enough to have gained some, and preparing a suitable laugh, so my dad doesn’t feel bad.
But the story he told me a few Fridays ago was riveting. There was an old man, he said, who lived in an apartment building in Ka-gī, the Taiwanese city my Dad grew up in. He kept a turtle in a pond in the building’s courtyard, and over time he noticed it got bigger and bigger and bigger, at rapid pace. He was thrilled, of course, but also baffled. Turtles don’t grow at the rate that this one was growing. It had to be magic.
At this point my dad paused, significantly. “Do you know what happened?”
In my father’s eyes, I am four, still, and he has to teach me things, so I bit my tongue. “Tell me,” I said, even though I already thought I knew. Maybe my dad would surprise me.
“The college boys who lived on the floor above him kept on buying bigger and bigger turtles, and they kept on replacing the turtles week after week, so that he thought his turtle was growing! Isn’t that funny?”
It was funny, but maybe not for the reasons my dad thought it was. “Dad,” I said, aiming for noncommittal, “do you know who Roald Dahl is?”
Dad, or Dahl?
I was asking because the plot to Dad’s story, which he’d recalled from a newspaper story he read, sounded an awful lot like Dahl’s story Esio Trot. In that story, an old woman living in a flat has a tortoise who isn’t growing fast enough for her, so the old man living one floor above, who is secretly and shyly in love with her, exchanges her tortoise for increasingly larger ones via a complicated pulley system. I thought maybe Dad was mis-remembering, or that he had read Esio Trot.
But the timing didn’t work out—Dad had read the newspaper story about his shelled creatures when he was a teenager, in the early…