Friday, May 14, 2010
Today I was chatting with my friend about Obama's plan to put restrictions on commercial banks from doing proprietary trading. Somewhere down the line we started talking about how much people in the banking industry make:
friend: my friend whos a 3rd year at jp morgan
friend: get 175k for bonus
friend: base raise to 100
friend: thats 3rd year coming out of college
friend: making almost 300k
This isn't going to be the first time I hear about someone around my age making a lot more money than I am, nor will this be the last. Yet, every time I sigh, and my heart sinks a little. I know I really shouldn't. Money doesn't make you happy. If I thought it did, I would've gone to wall street 4 years ago right out of college and become one of those big swinging dicks wearing a $6000 suit working at a firm named after some people's last names. Still, to be honest, I want to make that much money. Who wouldn't? When you don't, and someone else you know does, your ego dents a little.
They say money can't buy happiness? Look at the fucking smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby. Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn't fucking have any. - Jim Young, Boiler Room (2000)
Maybe it's true. I can imagine it's hard to be happy being poor, and it's probably easier being rich. I don't know. I haven't been on either end of the spectrum. I guess you just have to make enough, but what's enough? That dollar amount is as large as the amount of greed you can stomach. It probably sounds a bit sick, but it's not entirely wrong.
When I started looking for a job, I had 2 big fears:
1. Hating what I do
2. Working in a cubicle
I managed to avoid both, somehow. I should be very happy with myself, and in many ways I am. It's not always this simple though. I realized, when you venture out into the real world where there's a lot of people, chances are some of them are going to make you feel inadequate. Whether it's the money they make, the cars they drive, or the size of their TVs. It's become apparent to me that I've become a victim of the vanity fair that is modern society's lust and greed.
"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club (1999)
Despite all this confusion about how much do I really need to achieve, there is 1 aspect of my life that I value above all else:
I remember when I talked to Amy about her trip with a Taiwanese medical team to Ladakh. She said the monks there were a long hike away from the nearest city, ate mostly home grown vegetables, and were conservative with water. Yet, they were probably some of the happiest people in this world. I could tell the experience was life changing for her. I wasn't there, but I can only imagine being there, experiencing it personally and the revelation one must feel from it. I'm very envious of those that can be happy with so little.
I will always believe in pursuing whatever makes you happy. For me, it's the only way to live without regrets. Yet when you grow up in modern society where your life revolves around so many ideas, it becomes very hard to stay true. Maybe it's just insecurity, but the fact that none of us start on equal footing with one another promotes the desire for us to compare with each other. When you start comparing, there's no end and you start to lose sight of what is really important to you. You forget how to live a happy life.
The guy that has nothing could be just as happy as the guy who has everything. It's just a matter of perspective, and I need to find my own perspective.