Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Satisfied Mind

Money can't buy back your youth when you're old
Or a friend when you're lonely
Or a love that's grown cold.
The wealthiest person is a pauper at times
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind.

What rubbish. Lack of money won't get you any of those either. And if you disagree, may I have your excess wealth, please?

All I ask for is just enough to walk into the gorgeous house - no more than a 10-minute amble from city centre, a stone's throw from a Metro station (just in case), and sandwiched between a cinema with reclining seats that plays noir on Tuesday evenings and the restaurant that would make God wish he had metabolism; but yet just at the foot of a winding road up a hill with lots of trees, wild grass, perennial cloudy, breezy afternoons, and overlooking acres and acres of army grasslands that will not for a hundred years have anything built on them - and flick a thick wad of cash, Bugsy style, at the startled owner before asking him to clear out. If it were a commercial movie, the credits would come right up because there wouldn't be much money in filming a chap spending the rest of his days doing "no work at all, except perhaps an occasional poem recommending the young man with life opening before him, with all its splendid possibilities, to light a pipe and shove his feet upon the mantelpiece." Except the pipe. Filthy habit, that.

The popular image of the rich & lonely old crank, followed with indecent haste by the moral that money can't buy happiness is an argument about as intelligent as claiming that the appeal of fast cars is that they help you keep appointments. As Al Pacino pointed out in a deleted scene from a well-known gangster flick, "You shouldn't be embarrassed by your wealth. This contempt for money is just another trick of the rich to keep the poor without it." Remember, money is the root of all evil, and as an older Pacino argues in a different film: amorality is fun.

Most people who fit the Scrooge stereotype, or who've made their own money, are probably ambitious, driven folk who're in it for the money only to the extent that it's a barometer to power, achievement and other thingies that a journeyman like me could only hazard guesses at. They wouldn't know how to enjoy their money any more than I would know how to make pots and pots of it. Why don't people move past the eye-grabbing images of the descend of Michael Corleone into darkness and look at the countless examples of filthy rich people living the happiest lives imaginable? Most bookstores have entire racks devoted to Wodehouse, and yet I've never seen Bertie Wooster offered as an exemplar counterpoint to all this fallacious stereotyping and unfair binning of money...

There's this Norwegian movie, The Storm in my Heart, about unfathomable men driven by passions they cannot understand or tame. It has a bit of dialogue that goes like this: there are two types of travellers - those who book airplane tickets and hotel rooms and who return when their money runs out, and a second group who walk out the door with no money in their pockets and who go where the road leads them. But isn't there a third sort? There are those who drift through life with no ties to anyone or anything, except a bottomless bank account, a healthy, if unsentimental, appreciation of beauty, and a plain refusal either to be tied down or to rough it. They are the meek and they're blessed because they've inherited their wealth, not made it themselves.

P.S. - Is there anything in the world more depressing than house hunting on a budget (any budget)?

1 comment:

Arushi said...

I know where this thought is coming from....