I opened the cover of this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine and there she was – again. A young woman in casual clothes holding a cup of coffee, her hand pressed against an expanse of floor-to-ceiling glass, overlooking the sea. The water is the silky blue of the Pacific, the ocean of the future, rather than the murky grey Atlantic, which looks back to Europe and the past. She stands alone, in an opulently sterile house with a wild skin rug and a single chair that speaks of art more than life.
She strikes a three-quarter pose; we can’t quite see her face. She is so independent she ignores even us, the creatures she’s trying to entice. We are supposed to imagine her face could be ours, the view could be ours, the money she has to live in such exclusive seclusion could be ours; because BNY Mellon does such a bang-up job managing her assets. If we had enough assets to require management, we would be wise to seek out BNY Mellon. Then we could be like her.
What a horrible thought. That the point of being rich is to live, by ourselves, in a place with a distant view, of no one, with a an elaborate rug that confirms our domination over the natural world, and a single chair because we don’t even welcome other human company.
I’ve always lived with others, and always appreciated that the trials of getting along with them are the stuff of life. Not always fun, but always real. The idea that the perfect life is one of complete independence from others is not just an illusion: it is wrong. Humans are social creatures. We need each other. And though I fully embrace Virginia Woolf’s search for a room of one’s own, the idea that we should crave a complete environment incapable of accommodating another human being espouses a socially and biologically corrupt level of independence.
Don’t hire BNY Mellon to manage your wealth.Don’t crave a solitary perch with a view of nothing. Don’t support the idea that objective of life is to disconnect yourself from the other 6 billion people on the planet.
Let’s mix it up with our families, neighbors and friends, spread our wealth around, and share our humanity.