Jealousy is an emotional response that is rooted in insecurity. It occurs when a thing, situation, or another is desired and cannot (for whatever reason) be enjoyed; the sense that the inability to find, have, or retain is due to some lacking or flaw or fault of oneself.
Envy, however, is rooted in lacking without such reason. There is no cause for the lack, thus, no remedy; not of self, not of circumstance, not of another. There is no sense of inability, only of missing; saudade, the feeling of missing a thing as if not only has it never been, it cannot reasonably be expected to ever be. The view of the lacked “it” found anywhere in the world is felt like inhaling ammonia; sharp gasp of recognition and pang of missing that can sometimes take the breath. No wrath for those who have, but much sighing for a reminder of said lack and the ongoing wish that it could be met and assuaged.
I suppose you might say jealousy rises from a feeling that one is powerless to achieve, overcome, and succeed, while envy is a feeling of certainty that there can be no achievement, overcoming, or success because that which is sought is simply not within the grasp… impossible.
A very fine hair, is it not?
Jealousy breds anger and hatred; both with self and for those who “have” that contains a wish to take; to injure another to demonstrate competitive ascendancy; prove the insecurity wrong. And, when faced with finding or knowing oneself incompetent, permanently unable to change it, the horrid willingness to bleed the world and kill, scorch the very earth as “punishment” for being unable to have it oneself. It is not the ultimate selfishness, but it is damned close.
Worse still, jealousy flaunts itself; should it’s choking grasp land upon that which it seeks, it immediately sets about dismantling all environment but itself to provide sustenance; it makes grandeous gestures and takes delight in destroying even that which it most seeks; blind to how the insecurity ensures the death and that it is ever lost, lost, lost. Jealousy seeks always, but with razor-wire fingers that cut and cavort in blood at any sign of resistance.
Jealousy gleefully engages, but envy ever withdraws.
Envy breeds a veneer of disdain; perhaps turned on occasion to the foolish denials of contempt, but it is usually a mask behind which hides melancholy and, at times, despair. You’ve seen it, I’m sure; dog and the manger, sour grapes, the cozy little smirk and pretense that never quite hides the saville green beneath. Like that ancient orange, bitter throughout. “Why no, actually, why would *I* want *that*?” Amusing, really, and, on occasion, sad.
Envy rarely speaks; preferring to pretend that which is missed, needed, or wanted is simply not present, unavailable, or otherwise out of reach. It, quite literally, pretends not to notice. No sense being silly about it, when the goal is impossible, now is there? But the lie is belied by the gleam of wishful desire that remains. Envy is quick to move when opportunity presents and, unlike jealousy, has a sense of incorporating belonging rather than attempting the assimilation. Unlike jealousy, when envy meets satiation, it relents and relinquishes itself into nothingness.
I’ve had cause to envy many things in life, but I do not indulge it very often (and it IS an indulgence) because envy, left to ferment, turns any enjoyment in life from wine to vinegar in rather short order. As a general rule, I allow myself precisely a day to bow before envy and let it swirl and cloud like sulpher before opening the windows of being and feeling to drive it out with ridicule and laughter.
I have never known jealousy but to observe it and what it does in others. I think both rise from the same cause – a sense of lacking that wishes remedy. And I think the determining factor of whether or not the wish to remedy blossoms the angry green of jealousy or the wistful green of envy may well depend the most on little more than whether or not the seed is made of self-hope or self-hatred.