[The Listserve] To that I say nay!

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If I had won this contest a few years ago, I might have tried to write something profound and meaningful, but I'm a big boy now (I turned 30 last month and my mom says it's time to be a grown-up) and I'm pretty sure people don't read these anymore (I will admit I haven't read one in a few years), so instead of all that you get one very long sentence and the essay I wrote when I had to retake the SAT 5 years ago as punishment for coming in last in my fantasy football league:

The prompt:
We are often reminded that acquiring and owning material possessions--money, property, jewelry, even clothing--will not lead to true happiness. While it is certainly true that material possessions alone cannot bring happiness or provide us with genuine meaning in life, there is something to be said for having material possessions. Not only can they make us comfortable, but the happiness they can provide, while it may be momentary, is still happiness.

The response:
The question of how to achieve happiness is one that has plagued mankind since the days the man emerged from the jungle and separated himself from the lower beasts. As the wheel of time turned, and humanity became increasingly complex and humanity less occupied with its survival, so the lofty and elusive goals of happiness and satisfaction entrenched themselves as major issues in modern life. And we, being ultimately animals whose existence is predicated on the establishment and maintenance of sexual competitive edge, seek ever to solve these problems by material gain, as we historically [have] been guilty of measuring a man's worth by the value of the rocks in his pocket and the money in his coffers.
To that I say nay!
The evidence that material wealth does not lead to happiness abounds around us, if only we raise our eyes from the millstone in front of us to see. Even now, in the United States of America, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in possibly all of human history, depression runs rampant as we try to drown the beast in a river of prescription and recreational drugs.
While it is true that material possessions and wealth can provide comfort, the happiness they provide is not due to their nature themselves, as they are but a shadow. The car in the driveway or the new doll in the arms of a child are simply a shade of the more important factors in a man's life - the car provides happiness because it reminds us that we are capable of providing for ourselves and our loved ones and that we do in fact deserve such happiness as the price for our toils; the doll raises the spirit because it is symbolic of the love shared between parent and child and reminds both that the days and years and eons spent in quiet suffering for too little pay are endured for the sake of those we care about.
As I sit here, I stand as an example of this duality. I am a 25 year old man taking a test as the result of a competition, attempted in earnest but unfortunately lost to a group of friends I hold dear. To have won the competition would have spared me this trial and also meant significant financial gain. Yet as I write my thoughts are not on the lost windfall, but on the joy I would have felt if I had sent another to this fate, and seen his ambition trampled under my feet. I am not concerned with fortunes lost, but I long to be warm in my bed on this dreary morning, in the arms of a loving and bodacious babe, rather than pouring forth my opinions on happiness in number two pencil.
Seek happiness not in the material, but in the love you share and the satisfaction of a job well done and the knowledge that you have laid bare your enemies' deepest fears.

"Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women."

This essay was the lone bright spot in what turned out to be a comically miserable day for me, of which my friends enjoyed every ridiculous detail. If you would like to hear it in full, I can share the whole story with you, just email the address shown.

Try not to be dicks,


P.S. I also want it on the record that this punishment was devised way before Buzzfeed wrote any articles about it. I know it doesn't matter, but still.

P.S.S. The quote was from Arnold Schwarzenegger's portrayal of Conan the Barbarian. No need to bother google.