Thus Dantes who, three months previously, had desired nothing more than liberty, was no longer satisfied with that alone and aspired after riches. – Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexander Dumas and The Count of Monte Cristo certainly need no introduction from me. Dumas, even 140 years after his death, remains a distinguished man of letters and The Count of Monte Cristo remains a brilliant and sometimes profound book. It includes one of the most audacious, simple and brilliant prison escapes in fiction.
Dantes is the main character. At the beginning of the book he is an up-and-coming mariner, however some intrigue amongst some he thought were his friends lands him in jail for a long time. Eventually he escapes and begins to get his revenge on those who conspired against him. He assumes the identity of the Count of Monte Cristo and musters up no small measure of charm, guile and brilliance to pull his mission off.
The above quote explains human nature perfectly. We are seldom content. Dantes was not content with mere liberty after his escape and us humans are good at presuming the grass is greener somewhere else, even if we have a perfectly green lawn in our yard.
If we happen to find ourselves content one day, we aren’t for very long because sooner or later we will be itching for something more. It’s the way the world is built. It’s why early explorers tried to cross the ocean, why we went to the moon and why smartphones allow us to carry the sum of human knowledge in the palm of our hands: it’s human nature to advance, both collectively and individually.
Thus Dantes, who, three months previously, had desired nothing more than liberty, was no longer satisfied…
We must be careful, though. To yield to impulse and chase after something simply because it appears to be bigger and better is folly. There comes a time when we must be content with the effort we’ve put into something and the results we’ve achieved. We must have the wisdom to know the difference between when further effort will yield results and when we are banging our head against the wall.