Friday, March 30, 2012

The Bodyguard and Richard Cory

Whitney Houston. Kevin Costner. I’ve seen the before, but I wanted to see it again after Whitney’s recent passing. The film has a mediocre rating from viewers at imdb.com, but it’s not altogether a bad film. Whitney was a charming, beautiful and gifted young woman. What a voice. And what a beautiful face… and all the rest. The camera captures it wonderfully, and even though I tend to not care for Costner in some of his roles, he delivers some good lines here.

But Whitney’s gone, and it makes one sad because such beauty and talent did not bring her the happiness she desired. Awards, fame, riches... and emptiness.

This film combined with this week's lottery news brought to mind the poem Richard Cory, by Edwin Arlington Robinson. Paul Simon made it famous in the Sixties, re-interpreting the story in song and extending its reach since pop music spreads to the four corners of the earth and poets barely reach a sliver-demographic of esoteric elites. I’m reminded of the poem because it’s another one of those things that people would expect to bring happiness: money.

And so it is that this week’s Mega Millions lottery has broken records with its half billion dollar jackpot. And I can’t help but wonder if and how the winner of this windfall will find the happiness they’d hoped for. We’ve seen it all too many times. Buckets of cash don’t buy happiness.

Even so, whoever wins, I hope that by beating the odds to catch their golden dream that they will also beat the odds and find satisfaction as well. Be wise, be generous, and try to be different from those others who have squandered it all and become immersed in regret.

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favoured and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good Morning!" and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine -- we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread,
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet in his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson

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