a students' magazine

MONEY AND SUCCESS: (UN)ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS

Life is nothing more than an illusion.
It’s like a poor actor who struts and worries for his
hour on the stage and then is never heard from again.
(adapted from Shakespeare)

The unit of measurement of success is the hug from a beloved person, the smile of someone who is in a spot, the greeting of a neighbour. Being successful means that you are ready to help everyone and someone is ready to help you in any circumstance.

Nowadays people think that being successful means being the protagonist of a TV program, having enough money for dining out in famous restaurants or driving expensive cars. However, when speaking of successful people, we think of Albert Einstein, Oscar Wilde, Immanuel Kant: they are not famous for their money or material position, but because of their contribution to physics, literature and philosophy. I’m sure that when Einstein introduced his theory of relativity, he didn’t think about the success for his discovery, but was driven by his love for Physics and the desire for a better explanation of Newton’s laws. Having a profitable career isn’t as essential as waking up every morning and being passionate about our job.

Unfortunately, we are living through a materialistic period and we are used to judging the quality of life in accordance with the value of salary, the brand of clothes, the brand of our telephone; we are engrossed by several responsibilities and we hardly ever stop and think about what we have, what we would like to have or to be…

A serious mistake is confusing our being for our having and image, forgetting that life is already a success. A politician could have the most remarkable bank account in the world, but if he does harm to people and his society, his money and position will not hide his abuses and corruption. Therefore, he is not a successful man, but a lonely and cruel person; the politician can only look at his own life from an external point of view, as a spectator, but he will never be its protagonist. I’d like to “borrow” Petronius’s quotation: totus mundus agit histrionem (all the world plays the actor). If someone worries only about his success and economic position, he won’t even be able to perform his script.

In addition to this, I’d like to spend a few more words on what money is and what it means today: money is a tool, it’s a means of survival, and we can’t live without it, indeed the only alternatives are begging or theft. So money is an “instrument” which lets us realize our dreams, but it doesn’t create them; it allows the satisfaction of our desires, but it doesn’t give us desires; it takes us wherever we want but it doesn’t drive us; it doesn’t make a dormouse hard-working or a wolf friendly. A mathematician would say money is a necessary but not sufficient condition for our happiness.

If an actor learns  all the script by heart but he can’t improvise, his performance will be very “bland”, while if he gets inside the character, the work will be accompanied by rounds of applause.

So money can be the memory of an actor or the script, they’re both necessary but not sufficient for a good performance.

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