Les Murray’s 1999 poem “ The Cool Green” takes aim at the emptiness of the contemporary soul. No longer are humans motivated by art, enlightenment, nature or searching for the meaning of life. No. Making money now drives human desire. We value the elevated status that money brings rather than our basic accomplishments.
“Our waking dreams feature money everywhere
but in our sleeping dreams
it is strange and rare.
How did money capture life
away from poetry, ideology, religion?
It didn’t want our souls.”
The last two stanzas of Murray’s poem sums up perfectly the modern world we live in. We have sold our souls to jobs that we hate only because it pays well – it allows us to live the lifestyle we are accustomed to. At what price?
Five years ago I walked away from very successful career and a highly paid job. I had lost the passion for the industry I had worked so hard to achieve in. I was well respected and well known. I walked away. I wanted my soul back. I needed my soul back. I came to realise that there were more important things in life. I was not prepared to sacrifice my happiness for the sake of a well paying job. I discovered that the more money I have, the more I spend. I have a house full of `nice’ things – but I don’t need any of it. In the end, none of it matters. What matters is if you are a good person, how you treat your fellow human beings, what you give out to the world.
“this type of modern life- is it for me?
this type of modern life- is it for free?”
-American Life: Madonna Ciccone (2003)