Happiness is an individual pursuit which more often than not depends on a community’s support for it to be reached. I may be stating the obvious here, but nobody becomes wealthy without some sort of contact with the broader society, and it’s scary just how much we depend on each other. What would make me happy? Well, a decade ago I would’ve said being in the French Foreign Legion, with a pack on my back, rifle in my hands, a team behind me and an objective in front.
Today, looking at the end of my third decade on this screwed up ball of land, water and even more screwed up people, the goal posts have shifted to winning enough in the lottery to be a dollar millionaire, then emigrate to some country where nobody knows me and I can put put behind me the bitter nightmares of over three decades.
To go some place where the mountains are majestic, and a cabin miles away from the nearest town or village awaits. Where the house is big enough for a decent collection of books, an even better collection of booze, a good dog, a rifle and a pistol. The mountains of Arizona, Montana or Colorado look good enough on TV, and they’d certainly be my first choice. However, in case ole Donald decides to next ban those who think America not only ought but can certainly do better, Canada's mountains will do too, even if being one of Queen Elizabeth II’s subjects kind of sticks in my craw.
That’s what would make me happy, though until then, I find myself forced to read the bullshit professional athletes, football coaches and overpaid CEOs have to say about how unimportant money is, or how success is measured by how happy one is instead of what you’ve got and how much.
“It’s better to be poor and happy than rich and unhappy”- said many a rich man or woman to me. Eventually, my response became “Yeah, you fucking try it...”
*A "happy" South African. His placard reads "Unemployed. Please help us with a donation, everything will help. With gratitude. Ride safely".
Photo courtesy of Censorbugbear.org
The rich always say some hypocritical and deceptive Zen-like or New Age quip because they can afford to ignore the consumer price index, while the rest of us shake our heads and bury the desire to throttle them. In truth, success IS measured by money, power and social rank, how many fancy properties and expensive cars you have, an attractive (and younger) spouse plus de rigueur mistress, and as is common for our overpaid politicians, the blue light bully convoy- that’s what South Africans call the police bodyguard convoys traveling around with our politicians, and they’re usually rude, abusive as well as murderous.
*"Blue light bully" convoy somewhere in South Africa. Fancy cars for bodyguards while millions of ordinary citizens find "happiness" in unemployment and poverty. Photo courtesy of Daily Maverick (www.dailymaverick.co.za).
Inner peace or “living life on your own terms” are internally generated values available only to the rich, because nobody beholden to another for income can afford them. As such, all we get are dens of misery in the townships, undisciplined students burning down their universities’ libraries and a brewery which makes so much money out of the need to numb ourselves that it can buy foreign competitors outright, along with sophisticated pharmaceutical firms which make a mint from uppers, downers, poppers, tranquilisers and anti-psychotics.
Success as we know it is achieved by men and women who have single-minded discipline, deviousness, ruthlessness, a spark of brilliance and no inner peace. They feel resolutely compelled to chase their dreams at any cost, then to bask in the admiration received. If that wasn’t what it took to “make it”, chances are most people would work 35 hours a week (if at all), their phones and e-mail accounts would be quiet until the morning or beginning of the week, but this is not so, is it?
Nope. Bosses send those 3AM missives, phone calls wreck weekends and “date nights”, families get emotionally neglected, marriages ruined, shrinks and divorce lawyers get richer while we read the “wisdom” of many an ambitious man or woman who pushed subordinates into the seductively destructive arms of booze and pills.
Never mind the utterances of former American football players and others who’ve made millions or billions, here’s the wisdom of a poor man: “Money is important because society has decided it’s the least violent way to compete for power and security, and if the rich control the mill, then the poor are the grist. Therefore, you can either run on that wheel like a mouse on crack trying to reach the cheese that’s always just out of reach, or you can stop playing this sick game that's rigged by wealthy circus masters. Happiness is what it is, wherever you find it and however you make it. Understand this, though- you’re being manipulated by people with power to pursue their selfish aims instead of yours and should act accordingly, or have multiple heart attacks, nervous breakdowns and divorces on the way to that Great Exchequer in the sky”.
Some choice, man. But what can we do? Not much, though there's always writing and dreams of starting a drug cartel to get the uber-rich hooked on expensive dope...