When I came to America, all I wanted was a green card; when I got it, all I wanted to do was to study; when I got an opportunity to study and understand the subject I had chosen, I wanted to gain a passing understanding of countless subjects from nightclubbing in NYC to Lie groups. I found incredible mentors in every subject, and I emulated all their individual loves.
Now I want to be rich. Very rich. My mother said: well, go make money. She doesn’t get it; I don’t want to make money, I want to be rich.
Meaning, I regret my past choices.
Schopenhauer says our existence is a cruel negative joke. We are doomed to repent the past and waste the present. He was born with some money that was at the risk of being lost. But he recovered it in his 20s through relentless litigation. After that, he lived frugally and never worked a day, read copious amount of shit on all subjects, and wrote the most astounding books and essays.
Schopenhauer’s attitude towards money is the same as Howard Marks or Buffett or Ben Graham: keep a good margin of safety and avoid large losses. Then you can at least spend this joke of a life on activities that interest you.
But was I really interested in the activities that I had wasted my life on? To find out, I made a list of movies and plays I had enjoyed in my youth, from Andy Warhol and Woody Allen to the AIDS era productions like Parting Glances and Jeffrey and Hedwig and Beautiful Thing to indie Asian cinema like Yi Yi, and binge watched them. My grand operatic aim was to flagellate and berate myself for passing on NYC real estate when it was affordable.
As the movies rolled, I was, to my surprise, once again enraptured by the life they had opened for me and my partner in crime. Our friendship and love for each other was on show ever night at the movies and the theater, and even though we never said much to each other, we lived gloriously in the artistic expressions of those more gifted than us. My love for my friend overspilled into my love for knowledge. I loved telling him all the crazy ass shit I had learned. And he would listen raptly and retreat into his own private world, enchanted.
Now he’s gone and I am here.
Schopenhauer says a man is surprised to find himself doing the same thing over and over again. Because a man doesn’t realize that he’s only free to do what he was predestined by his eternal unchanging Nature to do. On cue, I had done it too. I had once again gotten sucked in to the artistic, and had forgotten about the cheap real estate.
No matter how many lives I am granted, I will spend my youth on arts and knowledge, and my middle age lusting for the cheap real estate and the lost love of my past.
Meanwhile, the present, the most gorgeous of all beings I’ve ever met, incessantly and fruitlessly flirts with me.