'From rags to riches' you often hear when talking about success stories. What does that even mean? Will 2017 bring about success and happiness for us all? Is happiness built upon riches? What does it take to feel rich? And for that matter, true happiness?
Recently, whilst sitting on a bus; carving the scenic landscape, en route to Monte Carlo, Monaco, the inspiration for this blog entered the scene abruptly. Despite having to line up and pay the bus driver a small fare, this 'thing' felt not the need for either. With breasts the size of voluptuous bowling balls and a face resembling a museum laden leather football from the early AFL days, she stormed to her seat and proceeded to batter herself with a further layer of putty, which I think was labelled makeup. Closely behind was her spouse; rather miserable despite modelling top of the line designer evening wear and a sporting tan; years in the making. He footed the bill and sat along side this leather purse with legs. He tried to spark conversation about the galaxy of all things and was greeted with several "shhh's". This may have been because the severity of countless injections had left the poor wife's orifice in such a way, merely a straw could fit and allowing for only that shhh gesture. Either way, I'm pretty sure this was a common and regular occurrence when they conversed. He gave up and made an overly loud phone call in his smuck German accent which reeked of pretentious charm. I sat and wondered between thoughts as I took in the magical imagery occurring beyond the bus window.
To be this way takes a certain persona, I thought. Rich, or to at least be perceived, I wasn't sure. What was most uncertain in my thoughts were two pondering motions. Why this pair would have the need to catch a bus to get from A to B when the odour they attempted to fill the air with was of filthy wealth. A chauffeur perhaps? Limousine? The other was on that of their insulate relationship and the meaning of wealth and it's correlation with happiness.
Would you rather be rich and unhappy or poor and happy? At surface level, most would answer quite quickly: the latter, of course. But with most of us unhapppy about this or that anyway, why not be rich whilst we drown in misery? If I, like so many of us, do indeed set out to make 2017 the best yet, the one where we make a huge impact on the world around us and beyond, I must make reference to the 'rags' component of this blog's title.
Over two harrowing experiences, leaving me rather despondent, the rags of the human society simply baffle me. Experience two.
My two fellow travellers and I brave the minus 8 degree day Berlin has offered albeit a clear and sun licked one. We are meandering the slightly unjustifiable yet still very raw concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, about 45 minutes out of Berlin (that's right, this stuff happened on the doorstep of Hitler's house itself). Wearing a heck of a lot more than the striped rags given to the victims of the deathly Nazi regime, the icy wind chills our breath as we breathe through scarves and snoods, overlying four or five other layers. "Two hours of this is the least we can do", we tell ourselves. The conditions for a trio of sun baked Aussies are torturous enough yet nothing can compare, now or ever, to what 5.4 million Jewish Europeans endured merely two generations ago. But what I admire most as I scan the seemingly untouched barracks, dead zone electrified razor wire fence line and gas chambers are the fables told upon plaques within both this camp and the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Berlin's heart.
How you fear what may the next corner's demons bring in our lives; the slog of the everyday workplace, being turned down when you've put yourself out on a limb and even the craziness of our county's financial downturn. Picture a life without everything you've ever known; forget pretentious people, parties and parades. I read of stories of pain, suffering and inhumane extermination as I walk the aisles of the unknown, tears welling, yet one story rings true in my mind. One of happiness. An unknown victim, who never threw herself in harm's way nor did she save a troop behind enemy lines. But she is an unsung hero all the same. This lone character simply smiled.
With everything going on around her, this invisible Jew put a smile on her face and brought hope. She was shot dead on the spot, as well, this deed was unseen here before but this caused a contagious outbreak. Even the Nazis finding hard to exterminate everyone's smile. With her last breath, she spoke of forgiveness. Not for what was bestowed upon her and those around but she asked for forgiveness for her own behaviour. "I have not smiled since I arrived and now I depart". This resonated with me a great deal. What an insane thing to leave this world with! I'm still puzzled with it.
From the glitz and glamour of Monaco, where a smile is just as scarce as a nutritious meal in a concentration camp, to the solemn streets of Berlin; the attitudes are vastly intangible.
For so many; past, present and future, forecasting the next step in the walk of life, we seek / will seek the same thing: happiness. Yes, we seek what we often cannot obtain but this, we can. The means in which we go about acquiring this is our flaw. Bring hope with every day that dawns in 2017. Be kind to yourself but remember to always put others first. We are all people, with so much to give. Instil happiness.