Friday, December 14, 2007

After the Money Chase

What would you do if you already had all that you needed?

It seems impolitic to ask, especially for us. We have been primed to think that ours is a poor country and will forever be so. Will we ever really have everything that we need? Even if not our own, there's a whole web of social and familial obligations that must be fulfilled. All our needs will never be met, so we're caught in that eternal money chase that takes us to faroff lands and through various contortions. We are Sisyphus; money is our rock.

But...what if? What would you do?

Would you escape every year to Europe and the United States? Would you strut about in your Jimmy Choos with a Fendi slung around your shoulders? Would you zoom about in a BMW with a pretty young thing in the passenger seat? Would you party every night with the socialites?

And then...what? After you've visited every country and bought every trinket and driven every sportster and shagged every tease: what next?

For a great many, the answer is in religion, the refuge for the weariness of old age and atonement for transgressions committed in youth. For others, it's social work among the less-privileged, a secular alternative for those wary of the church.

And then...what? After you've worn your knees out on the altar and your hands grow callouses from the shovel: what next?

Would you sit in the house doing nothing (and then rest afterwards?) Would you loll about the mall watching people go by? Would you tan yourself brown at the beach listening to the surf against rocks? Would you spy on your neighbor to add to his list of shortcomings?

And then...what?

The question, if you haven't given it enough thought beforehand, does not lend itself to easy answers. If it hits you unprepared, you'll quite likely go off the deep end. Alzheimer's comes to mind; that, or the muzzle of a gun to the temple. It's probably God's small mercy, then, that we have just enough needs that go unmet to keep us from facing such ignominious ends. But even that just barely dodges the issue.

Really, now: what would you do if you already had all that you needed?