You Can’t Take It With You was a wildly successful play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart that won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1936. Two years later it became a successful film starring Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur. The premise was simple: A sane girl from a nutty family becomes engaged to a rich boy from a stuffy family. Misunderstandings abound as the rigid stiffs clash with the free-spirited loons, discipline vies with conformity, and hilarity ensues. But the underlying work itself is not so much metaphorical as it is a simple fact. Life is there for the living, and the pressure to measure up to an imagined ideal is a big bag of gas. In the end, you can’t take it with you.
When applied to the lifestyle of the Hedoine, this hokey old title takes on a profound significance. It forces the question: What are you living for? What is the point of accumulating massive wealth if you can’t enjoy it? And wouldn’t you be better off leaving your children with a deeply rooted understanding that life is a spectacular adventure to be embraced, rather than leading them to believe that a swollen bank account is the key to happiness?
It may seem that serious money makes life easier, but the truth is that serious money can also mean serious headaches. In and of itself, money without happiness is meaningless. A penniless woman with true friends is wealthy, and a rich woman who is completely isolated is truly poverty-stricken. The point is that it all evens out in the end, and if you are wise enough to recognize that all along, you can have a beautiful life regardless of your financial status. If you follow your bliss, if you value relationships more than your bank account and if you live for the moment, you will tap into that which is the true measure of success – a truly happy life.
Yes, it’s a bit corny, but the truth is that all of the answers to life’s great mysteries are painfully simple. Joy begets joy, and misery draws more of the same. Like magnets, we draw unto ourselves that which we emit, and we repel that which is contrary to our mindset. Focus on the negative and you will draw more of the same into your orbit, visualize the life you want and you will slowly begin to move toward it. It’s an ugly revelation for the twenty-first century cynic, but it is inescapably true.
So, if you can’t take it with you, it only makes sense to enjoy it while you’ve got it. Do not waste your power, your energy, your youth, your vitality or the moment at hand. It will all disappear before you even know it.
(From the writings of Michael Flocker)