This classic poem by Edwin Robinson addresses the age-old disconnect between wealth and contentment. Forever a slave to the laconic proverb, money simply cannot buy happiness. Furthermore, money is not a means to the even greater pursuit, purpose and fulfillment. At no point will riches ever fulfill our innate lust for existential purpose. Chasing after wealth is a vain pursuit, as Solomon laments, a mere chasing after the wind. Indeed, taking into effect humanity’s primal selfishness and greed, one may question why wealth is the chosen venue for so many striving to fill this void. Few will ever attain the sacred point of self-actualization; if this state is to be achieved, money must be considered an enabler instead of the objective. The sooner we escape the hedonic treadmill of greed and lust, the sooner we can recognize meaningful existence.
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.