We all work, or have at least worked once in our lives, for a variety of reasons — some more profound than others. However, it would be safe to say that most of us work for that paycheck that we receive during the month-end period, no? Otherwise, congratulations on being passionate and noble. We need more people like you in this world.
Material wealth and money have become the convoluted indicator of success in our times. This stems from the human mentality of wanting more than what we really need to survive. It is the desire and the yearning for more. We like having the capacity to earn more so that we may be able to own whatever we fancy — regardless of whether or not we need it. It's not wrong to want pretty things, is it? And neither is it wrong to want more, right?
However, it is when materialism is grossly mistaken for ambition that it becomes unhealthy. A quick trip to Dictionary.com led me to learn that Materialism is the “preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.” Whilst reading those very lines, I could come up with a handful of people from the top of my head that will fit that description to a T. Being materialistic does not, by any means, make them evil or nasty people. They simply have a knack for driving away those that they have engaged in conversation by constantly talking about money and anything remotely related to it. Admittedly, it can be quite annoying and not to mention yawn-inducing.
Nonetheless, I cannot help but see the humor in materialistic people. I find it quite fascinating how they can put a price tag to literally anything and everything. From the coffee that they drink in the morning to the pens they use to jot down notes to the cars they drive and the shoes they walk on. Everything for them would have to be some status of sorts. Do they not realize how ridiculous they're being? In all honesty, tea tastes the same to me whether or it's served in a Royal Doulton tea cup or a styrofoam tumbler.
I have met numerous people whose lives are controlled by money and brand names. One of them, as a matter of fact, openly admits to only agreeing to marriage if the guy can produce a two-carat diamond ring as an engagement present. Or if he holds a certain job position that pays x-amount of money. And I thought girls like those only exists in movies — and they usually die at the end or end up in some mud hole depending on the movie's genre. I have also had my fair share of meeting people who are so in love with designer brands that one would expect them to have Christian Dior or Louis Vuitton tattooed onto their buttocks. Even some of these people's children have to go to certain schools in order to be accepted into social circles.
My recent trip to Hong Kong has re-ignited my cynicism towards materialism. I go to Hong Kong every couple of months usually for weekend getaways — it's the big city syndrome curse, really — as I'm rarely the type to trek to the mountains or go camping. Shopping relaxes me and I enjoy having dinner whilst getting bathed in the city's lights. However, Hong Kong is likened to a drug where it must be taken in moderation. Overdosing in Hong Kong is a tough one because it involves a mix between a culture focused on monetary gains and working excessively hard for them. I reckon that the reason why Hong Kong is such a happening place is that people work ultimately hard — and they play equally hard. This is true among the circles that I move around in, that is. There is a balance that must be respected. Most people in Hong Kong get caught up in the glitz and glamor of life. Having said that, they are usually beautifully packaged, ooze with poise and immaculately dressed. The thing is, beauty usually comes with a price — and a hefty one at that. It is a shame to wear anything worth less than a few hundred dollars. It is no wonder that Hong Kong's economy is constantly booming.
As much as I love Hong Kong, I cannot live there and expose myself to that kind of life. I have never met anyone who has left Hong Kong unjaded. The experience makes you stronger and wiser, but a lot less happy. The stress and competition are too much to keep up with — be it at work or not — as they are constants in the city's life. Everyone works for money to be spent for ephemeral fulfillment and satisfaction.
Nowadays, whenever I meet people who have love affairs with worldly goods, I feel more pity than aggravation towards them. It's like they have a void that they're trying to fill. And from first hand experience, fulfillment obtained from material wealth is fleeting. As I said, like a drug, the high wears off and leaves you wanting more — and more, and more, until it could no longer satisfy. At the end of the day, what is it really that they're pining for?
“There is something perverse about more than enough. When we have more, it is never enough. It is always somewhere out there, just out of reach. The more we acquire, the more elusive enough becomes” – Unknown
It's a vicious cycle, isn't it?