There are violent greens appearing in the world outside as the trees begin to dress for the season, and the willow vies with the chestnut tree.
April is, if we agree with T.S. Eliot, “the cruellest month”. There is something about Springtime that can seem to some folks like a series of little deaths, the wet resurrections of their pasts, something not untouched by eros.
Long under discussion with friends has been the difference between envy and jealousy. The subject came up again last week in conversation about comparisons of self with other.
Jealousy = fear that something you have will be taken away
Envy = fear that someone else has something you don’t
Both fear-based reactions are allied with the color green. One is green with envy. But one is also said to suffer from the green-eyed monster, which in Shakespeare’s Othello is arguably jealousy as well as envy.
So when a friend or stranger says, in response to some bit of good news of yours, “Oh, I’m so jealous!”—he or she likely really means that they are envious.
The supreme pliable grace of the Willow may give her no cause for jealousy, but does she ever wish, with a pang of envy, that she could wear the thick green of the Cypress to keep away from the winter’s glare?
The color green is on my mind also as I study Chinese 5-Element Theory. A gentle introduction is Reichstein’s Wood Becomes Water: Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life.
There Wood, which is governed by emotions such as anger, is also allied with the color green. If you have a wood imbalance, you might hide away everything of the color green (I am naturally averse to its brighter shades, which is peculiar given my vocations. My twin sister is similar in this).
Different cultures, of course, imbue colors with different meanings. In the East, for example, green might be considered more an indication of harmony and of balance.
And I remember, long ago, trying to understand a line of the 7th century BC Greek poet Sappho, remember again and again grasping at what her green (χλωροτερᾱ) meant. The speaker in her poem number 31 tells us:
I am greener than grass
It just so happens to also be a famous poem about jealousy or envy.
Green might also be widely understood as the color of Nature. The color is again rapidly bursting into existence all around us, is both creation and—as bound up with the idea of prosperity—the possibility for destruction.