“Living well is the best revenge.” – George Herbert
I have recently started believing in the power of well-directed spite.
About two years ago, I had a flopped romance that hurt me pretty badly. As a result, I went to the gym nearly daily for the entire summer until it became a habit. I still go to the gym at least three times a week and usually five. When I don’t, I feel like I’m letting myself down. Not because I’m losing my strength, necessarily, but because I’m letting the situation win.
You see, the whole initial motivation of working out wasn’t to get stronger – no – it was to get stronger such that when she would see me, she would see how I’ve changed, how I’ve become more attractive (or not), how I’ve become more confident and more physically capable. In a sense, the purpose was to give her a sense of regret, perhaps a self-loathing from seeing me as this changed man she could’ve been with and isn’t. I am working out, improving myself out of spite for her.
Is this a horrible reason to work out? If it gets me on the path towards improving my health, does the reason really matter?
I have a lot of built up spite for a lot of people, and I notice first and foremost it makes me want to improve myself. Out of spite. It makes me want to be a better composer – because if I become a great composer, all those I have spite for in the composition world will feel a sense of jealousy, perhaps an internal discontent, a pang of self-loathing. It makes me want to be a better linguist – to show those that lost faith in me that I was worth it – or at least that I communicate in four different languages. It makes me want to be a better writer, so that those who were skeptical of my ideas would be eternally skeptical of their own intuition.
All those that invested in someone else at my expense will look over their shoulders at the man I’ve become and be forced to wonder “what if?”
“What if I had given him a chance?” And they’ll never find out. It might’ve been worse – it might’ve been better. It’s the mystery of the “could have’s” that will drive them to insanity, and it’s that insanity for which I strive. This is of course no longer about composition or linguistics. Its not about me becoming a better writer or a stronger man. It’s about heartbreak and abandonment. Revenge.
If I focus this negative energy into a drive for success, is it really a dark side? If I become a better person out of spite, am I really becoming a better person at all? Or am I compromising the moral framework that has gotten me to where I am now? Can one forget the initial motivation and continue something good purely out of habit?
Or is it a recipe for never truly finding happiness within my success?