Monday, April 16, 2012

esprit d’escalier

Monday, April 16, 2012

The French have had the wit to pack into the words esprit d’escalier the common experience that one’s happiest retorts occur to one only when the chance of uttering them is gone, the door is closed, and one’s feet are on the staircase. (H.W. and F.G. Fowler, The King’s English, 1922) 

It’s not every day that I come face-to-face with people whose sense of entitlement is so warped that I was nearly at a loss for words. ‘It’s like being given this much yet still wanting to have everything else, which we all know you do not deserve,’ was the only retort that I could muster. My seeming lack of diffidence proved ineffectual in preventing the encounter from turning into an exercise in esprit d’escalier

Encountering greed, ostensible and undisguised, is quite unsettling. It has made me reconsider the life choices I adhere to with such tenacity. Always with pride that I say, I have no business sense whatsoever and I do not believe in doing things entirely for lucre. But when I look at the other side and see how unbridled ambition and self-interest have propelled others’ lives, the desire for something more, something bigger, something beyond what is necessary becomes necessary. But is it necessary to always ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ or to look at everything with profit in mind? How has greed become a standard practice, even a guiding principle in life?


Loree said...

I understand your feelings. I often go through the same things myself. There is so much greed and selfishness all around. Sometimes it just suffocates me.

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