Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Richard Cory

When I was young, my dad would play a lot of Simon and Gargunkel. There was a song that they would sing called "Richard Cory" and I clearly remember the last line of the song that would shock me. If you haven't heard it yet, you can view the video I am attaching.
  My 14 year old honors student came home yesterday and asked me to critique a paper she was writing about her take and understanding of the poem "Richard Cory". As soon as I heard the name I knew what she was writing about although I did not know the official piece that was apparently written in the late 1800's. The one that I grew up with was tailored to fit within the 1960's but the theme is exactly the same with the same ultimate ending.

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
My reason for bringing this up is that I find myself feeling frustrated with how difficult times have been. It is hard to watch others succeed around you when with every step you take you seem to stumble or even worse fall yet again. We are stumblers for sure and it sometimes hurts so badly that I have anxiety attacks. I think that this is why I loved that Ricky Gervais was hosting the Golden Globes again because I felt better to hear these celebrities be called out and pulled off of their overly decorated pedestal. I know that a lot of the comments were hurtful and perhaps out of line but from where I am sitting and from how much we had to watch them parade their wealth across a red gilded carpet with jewels and finery... to be put back in to a place where they were human and ultimately no better than you or I was a bit healing in a very messed up way. It was healing for me at least.
  And then there is the relation to the poem where you have to look at all of the stresses you feel in your life during these financially difficult times and realize that for all that glitters, the world around you isn't gold. You don't know what faces are being put on before you. You don't know that the neighbor who is driving around in new cars all the time and is always out to eat while wearing the latest mall fashions is buried in credit debt and not sleeping at night with fears of how they will ever keep it up. The higher you rise, the harder you fall. We all fall. We all trip sometimes and we all feel the hurt when we land. Although my husband has been laid off 4 times in the last 3 years we have survived. We have many around us that are in the same boat. Misery loves company and we have so much company that we can have one rocking party! But when I wipe away my pain and clear away the tears, I see that we are doing just fine. We are reasonably clear of major debt, we have enough strength to work it out and enough creativity to come up with what we need. The most important part of all is that we are respected, supported and loved by those around us. We may have had to pass on many dinners out and expensive social events but we have great potlucks filled with friends and family. My kids might not have had big expensive birthday parties in the latest hot spot place to party but they have had friends over, lots of fun and they never walked away feeling disappointed. We have done very well with what we have. I share my tips,discounts and bargain secrets so that some of my wealth, although wealth in knowledge alone, may help those that are willing to try and willing to listen. I share what I have because although I may struggle and cry and feel very low at times, I am ultimately richer than those I thought I was aching to be. I am richer than Richard Cory because I am not alone and apparently he was.

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