The Quest for the Things of This World

“The man who has given his heart entirely to the quest for the things of this world is always in a hurry, for he has but a limited time to find, possess, and enjoy them. The memory of life’s brevity constantly spurs him on. Beyond the goods he possesses, he is forever imagining a thousand others that death will prevent him from savoring unless he makes haste. This thought feels him with anxieties, fears, and regrets and keeps his soul in a state of constant trepidation that impels him again and again to change plans and places. If the taste for material well-being is coupled with a social state where neither law nor custom still keeps anyone in his place, this restlessness of spirit is further exacerbated. We will then find men constantly changing course for fear of missing the shortest road to happiness.” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America, tr. Goldhammer)