57. What other-side-of-the-fence?

“I like that saying about the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence, when people are talking about being envious or jealous about what other people have. I think one of the reasons it seemed more intriguing for me than it probably would have for anyone else came about from when I first heard it years ago, and that had something to do with a misconception that formed in my younger head at the time.

“I’d imagined that there was some interesting science fact at play… that when you look at grass from a more side-on angle the light or something else physical made it look greener than when you saw it more from directly above. I was quickly put straight about the real meaning, and it all made sense then, although I didn’t really think I’d missed the point completely.”

Apart from feeling a little silly at the time, the picture in his mind that young Benny was left with was a residual impression of wandering through grassy paddocks judging all the greenness that was going on. I know that his ‘liking’ the grass-is-greener phrase had a lot to do with his having to be corrected about its intended meaning, because by then he had started to conceive the connected idea that an initially perceived ‘better’ greenness could fade to a usual same-old greenness once approached — although he then mixed this up with also imagining the affect somehow resulting from something like those temporary particles on your eye that float away when you try to look at them, but edge back into almost-view when you give up.

The appeal for our Benny was that his original misconception could be somehow justified if the imagined outcome of being envious about greener grass was that the inviting other-side-of-the-fence patch of pasture would fade to ordinariness once you got a closer look or were standing right on it. I did what I could to maintain the appeal of his idea, as it was also quite thoughtful and, I thought, added to the general thrust of the original saying.

“Anyway, it’s worth remembering. Envy’s a pretty useless thing to get yourself caught up with. I’d rather just get on with it.”

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