The media has reported that Charles Branson and five other billionaires are soon to embark on self-financed moonshots. We, responsibly, cannot avoid hazarding the presumption that the motivation for such space ventures is predominantly personal, and only secondarily, scientific, and entrepreneurial.
In an early essay, [“It’s All Internal”] we sought to explore the attainment of the universally prized goal of “Happiness,” and noted some commonly misdirected routes seeking its destination. We declared that the popular image of the goal, unfortunately, was too often closely bound up with the concept of the sizeable accumulation of demonstrable assets, acquired by dedicated efforts, or by way of fortunate inheritance. We stated, and still adhere to the belief, [assuming the availability of sufficient means of subsistence] that happiness is the ultimate realization of personal growth and attained self-fulfillment.
The psyche of contemporary mankind is so intimately beholden to criteria emanating from the profitable production of goods and services, that, to our discernment, it entirely loses sight of the pre-industrial, natural criteria of pleasure, derived from the precious rewards of individual accomplishment. Money, to our jaded fellow citizens, not Mother Nature, causes the Planet to, heliotropically, orbit the Moon and the woodlands to resound in sweet birdsong and pleasant animal chittering. In this dystopic view, the influence and power of wealth, “makes the man” and is determinative of his importance; yet, this view, ultimately, proves inadequate, or possibly, in some cases, altogether irrelevant, to one’s empirical attainment of happiness. Popular criteria seem to be laser-focused on production and profit, a misdirected and unnatural route to mankind’s success and happiness.
In reality, the phenomenon of “money,” exists and functions solely as a means, and not an end in and of itself. Money serves as a medium of exchange, a measure of practical and comparative value and a store of potential purchasing capability. People who, irrespective of need, believe that money serves as a competitive marker of success are never ostensibly, visited with the feeling of ultimate sufficiency, but chronically suffer from an infectious virus, demanding to make yet more. No individual, by any standard of luxury, needs billions or millions of dollars to live as desired.
Apparently, wealth and business prosperity alone, as previously observed, do not empirically result in the ultimate recognition of happiness, or of having lived a truly successful life. These tangible elements can, if needed, make one “feel” powerful if such is the neurotic need, but the candid conclusion of ultimate satisfaction and of self-fulfillment are far more difficult of acquisition. Striving for wealth and comfort is commendable provided it is accompanied by something more personally enriching. What matters is not how much one earns, but how much he can spend enjoying life experiences, i.e., doing things he enjoys. Experience seems to prove that investment in knowledge pays the highest dividends.
It is our surmise [if we are correct] that Mr. Branson and the other venturous billionaires, have discovered a paucity of satisfaction in the earning of untold sums of money and enjoying [deserved] unprecedented financial and influential success; and have therefore decided to obtain personal fulfillment by way of novel, private expeditions into outer space. If our assumptions are correct, we would more efficaciously recommend to them a novel by Dickens or Faulkner, planting colored tulips or listening to the music of Claude Debussy or Count Basie, all of which are safer and privately rewarding.
We are pleased to offer three sage comments on our theme, that seem to say it all:
THOREAU: “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”
PLATO: “No wealth can ever [give] a bad man, peace with himself.”
EINSTEIN: “ Not everything that can be counted, counts, and not everything that counts, can be counted.”