Overheard at a Bank

"That sure is some life you've had," said the young banker.

"Yes. Yes, it is," the old man said. "I realized in youth that happiness was knowing I could do anything I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. They told me that this was not possible. But I found that it was, just that the only limiters of that happiness were other people. They said that money or other circumstances would limit you, but that wasn't true either. It was only people that prevented you and you had to let them."

"I should walk out of this bank today and start traveling. Seeing things."

"Most feel as you do and do nothing. It's as if the life they wish they had is a comfort of sorts--that maybe this life is practice and they'll get a shot at doing it right later on. It helps to believe in heaven."

"I believe in heaven," said the young banker. "If I can just make some more money I will start to live like you have."

The old man was silent.

Then he said, "I think it is good that you believe in heaven. But for me heaven is the opposite of happiness."


  1. This, overheard in a coffeeshop, was probably even better:
    A man told me once: you want to
    make moves? Don't keep anything
    in your life you're not willing
    to walk out on in 30 seconds
    flat if you feel the heat around
    the corner.
    So if you're chasing me and you
    gotta move when I move, how do
    you expect to keep a family?

    What are you, a monk?

    I got a woman.
    What do you tell her?

    She thinks I sell swimming pools.

    And if you spot me around the
    corner. You gonna walk out on
    her? Leave her flat? Like that?
    Not even say goodbye?

    That's the discipline.

    What you're left with is pretty

    Then maybe you and me, we should
    both go do somethin' else, pal.

    I don't know how to do anything

    (the shared
    ...neither do I.
    And I don't much want to.

    Neither do I.

    Both of these guys look at each other and recognize the
    mutuality of their condition. Hanna's light laughter:

    We're sitting here like a coupla
    regular fellas. You do what you
    do. I do what I gotta do. What
    happens if I am there and I got
    to put you away?
    I won't like it. But, if it's
    between you and some poor bastard
    whose wife you're going to make
    into a widow, brother, you are
    gonna go down. 'Cause you don't

    Converted to PDF by www.screentalk.org 88.

    have to be there. You coulda
    gone and been a... a mailman.

    There's a flip side to that coin.
    What if you got me boxed in and
    I gotta put you down?
    'Cause no matter what, you will
    not get in my way.
    But now that we been face to
    face, I would not feel good about
    that. But I won't hesitate.
    Not for one second.

    Maybe it'll happen that way. Or
    who knows ...

    ...maybe we'll never see each
    other again.

    They look at each other for a moment. Neil's wry smile.

    (to waitress)
    Can we have the bill.

  2. Anonymous24.3.10

    Achieving as a means of gaining happiness (earning, succeeding, winning, controlling, having) is perhaps part of it, though this idea is a bit troublesome to reconcile.

    But certainly no incremental amount of achieving, particularly some incremental amount that eludes you (i.e. you have yet to achieve), will not push you through some invisible wall surrounding happiness.

    The common man, unfortunately, does not realize that. He is dumfounded, and does not recognize happiness's natural causes.

  3. Becoming an animal. Meaning: living by instinct. Meaning: not talking. Meaning: only acting in accordance with basic physical needs.

    Recovery of the animal in man, that should be the objective. All discussions of happiness, all this talk ends then.


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