[FOUNTAIN]A unique way to pause in life

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[FOUNTAIN]A unique way to pause in life

Log on to any Internet music site, and play Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The pleasant rhythm and melody will immediately refresh your mood. The song takes you to a scene in late fall, standing on a tree-lined road under falling leaves.
The sounds of piano, guitar and drum rise up quickly and Elton John’s voice creates the perfect tension, only to be relieved softly. Sir Elton sang about the courage to leave the tempting urban life and return to a simple, rural lifestyle. It was 1973.
“You know you can’t hold me forever ... So goodbye, Yellow Brick Road ... Back to the howling old owl in the woods ... Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies beyond the Yellow Brick Road ... It’ll take you a couple of vodka and tonics to set you on your feet again.”
Sir Elton knew he might not live the idyllic life of his song, but he made a point to stop at certain stages of his life and pursue a new lifestyle.
Recently, he put the entire contents of his London apartment up for auction at Sotheby’s. Famous for his lavish lifestyle, Sir Elton included expensive costumes, artworks, antiques, furniture and household goods in the sale. By staging this garage sale, he reportedly wanted to emphasize his transition from extravagance to minimalism.
The housecleaning is not new to Sir Elton, who sold off his property after a successful concert at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1988, when he was 41. He donated the profits from the auction to AIDS research. At that time, he was at the lowest point of his life, recovering from vocal cord surgery after his cocaine and alcohol addiction had damaged his health. For Sir Elton, selling off his expensive belongings was a way to rehabilitate a worn-out mind and body. The latest auction is focused on reform on a more fundamental level. He is now pursuing a simple life that values emptying and throwing away, not filling and collecting.
To average people, Sir Elton’s pursuit of “anti-possessions” could appear to be another kind of extreme luxury. But as the saying goes, money can be a terrible master but an excellent slave. A rich man could feel endlessly thirsty for more money, while a poor man could find happiness in sharing with others. In our competitive race towards wealth, it is not a bad idea to be reminded of Sir Elton’s unique way to pause.


by Chun Young-gi

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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