Added: Mon. Dec 03, 2012 7:07pm
1966, Michael Caine starred in the movie Alfie.
He portrayed a man who went through life but never seemed to learn from it. His
life was empty and devoid of true feelings for another; his only pleasure was
the birds - his euphemism for beautiful women. As the movie closes he starts to
realize there is more to life than that. In the final scene, Alfie looks back
and assesses his life. Here is what he has to say:
Alfie: You know what? When I look back on my little life and
the birds I've known, and think of all the things they've done for me and the
little I've done for them, you'd think I've had the best of it along the line.
But what have I got out of it? I've got a bob or two, some decent clothes, a
car, I've got me health back and I ain't attached. But I ain't got me peace of
mind - and if you ain't got that, you ain't got nothing. I dunno. It seems to
me if they ain't got you one way they've got you another. So what's the answer?
That's what I keep asking myself - what's it all about? Know what I mean?
The question Alfie asks is one we all probably ask ourselves at one time or
another. "What's it all about?" Of course, the "it" is
life. Maybe there is no answer. Maybe we simply aren't around long enough to
answer the question. Maybe Joseph Campbell, the noted mythologist, had it when
he said, "Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out
what is going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, then
being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends."
Then again, it could be that the answer is so far beyond our intelligence,
beyond our ken, that we will never know how we fit into the scheme of things
until we're unexpectedly called away. Until then, it seems each of us writes
our own rules about how we will live our lives and what is important. You can
talk about ethics, morals and rules of conduct, but what stands out to me is
that when people place their own welfare above all others, bad things happen.
And because of that, we often see greed and self-interest writ large in
business, politics and relationships. I may not know what's it all about, but I
know what it isn't all about; it isn't about greed and self-interest.