Monday, September 19, 2005

On wealth and happiness



A couple of years ago I was walking around the centre of Rome, pushing myself through the masses of tourists and locals wandering around. Suddenly I stepped in to a gap in the crowd and in front of me, sitting slightly raised on the steps of an old church, was a man. This man in his late thirties was sitting there crying, his Armani suit silky and sleet, his polished shoes glittering in the noon sun. He was obviously rich and successful yet he sat there and cried, his tears falling like diamonds, rolling off his cheeks and hitting the marble floor with a splash. He sat there and cried desperately as the crowds surged passed him without giving him a second glance. The sound of children laughing and people enjoying their day out, overpowering up until a moment before subsided and in the frozen silence of that moment I stopped as though in shock. It seemed to me that time slowed down as though respectful of this scene of misery, a grown man crying in his Italian suit and me, staring at him confused and powerless to help. It must have been only a moment and then I got pulled away by some friend but to me it seemed like hours that I stood there staring at him. I still vividly remember the sensation of absolute loss I felt, the intense empathy I felt. I never found out why this man was crying so desperately yet I think something snapped in my heart that day and that image still burns vividly in my mind every time I think about it. That man crying in his Armani suit still represents, for me all that is pointless and bitter in life.