I’ve been considering the word “rich” lately. Many of us Americans look at Trump and say “He’s rich…richer than I can even imagine.” We may look at the Kardashians, celebrities, sports heroes and say they are rich; they have the resources to buy anything they want at any time and still, they are safe and secure financially.
But have you considered that who we often call “rich” are often the poorest among us and the poorest by these financial standards are often the “rich”est? I am visiting a good friend of mine’s family farm and am finding myself reminded of another good friend of mine who lived in what he called the “hillbilly mountains.” He said by American standards, his family was “effing poor” and yet he never realized that until he left the small town he grew up in. He lived immediately adjacent to his cousins. They had freedom and safety and spent most days roaming around the mountains alone or together without fear. They learned about confidence, problem-solving skills, conflict resolution, companionship and friendship. They learned how to hunt for their own food, make their own food. They had family, community, love, acceptance, and means of surviving. They didn’t need anything else. They were “rich” in his eyes – until society told him differently.
Similarly, by society’s definitions, I am the “poorest” I’ve ever been when you look at the influx of money into my bank account on a monthly basis. And yet…I feel supremely rich, monumentally rich, infinitely wealthy in the things that matter. People around me invest in me, love me, accept me and I do the same with them. For once, I am seeing the family in front of me that I always wanted. I make money doing things I love and support and help people even though I don’t get a consistent paycheck. I have the freedom of time to have experiences, to invest energy where I want to invest it, to love fully and wholly without a tax for stability. I don’t struggle with the constant urge to fill every free moment with *something*….because I don’t struggle for free time. I am not in the rat race. I am not giving into or supporting “the man” or slaving my days away for the dollar.
I feel…good. I feel free. I feel like instead of determining how I will be spending the zeros adding up in my bank account, I am determining how I will spend the minutes of my life and the energy of my heart. Every day, I go to sleep thinking “If today was my last day of life, I know I lived it well and exactly how I wanted it to be.” If I want to make something happen, I make it happen. If I don’t, I don’t make excuses – I must not want it that bad after all.
I read this post about a year and a half ago. Though I’d spent much of my life feeling like I was racing against a clock to do all the things I wanted to do, when I actually saw how few moments I actually have in a visual way, I slowed down and re-evaluated. Yes, I wanted to do “all the things.” But…what were all the things really adding up to if these things were mutually exclusive with spending time with people I loved? I stopped traveling as much. All the places began to feel kind of the same and I realized what I really wanted more of in the moments of my life…were just….more moments – with abundant love right in front of me. I wanted more time with myself, more time with “my people,” more time doing things I loved doing with people I loved doing them with.
Exploration is awesome. But so is appreciation. So is being present, being aware of and grateful for the gifts in front of us. Being “rich” has nothing to do with money in the bank and everything to do with what remains in our hearts at the end of the day.
At the end of the day, I know I will be okay. Deep down, I am solid. In my heart, I know that if I passed away right now, I am confident I’ve been authentic to myself, to my needs, to my desires as much as I could be and that the people I love know they are loved. I wouldn’t have to write a letter to them before I was gone; they would know.
I would know that I spent my life truly living – not watching TV, not playing video games, not distracting myself from the vicissitudes of reality. I saw, I lived, I hurt, I suffered, I pushed, I bawled, I squealed with joy, I screamed in pain, I fell over and over and over and got up again every fucking time.
And at the end of the day, I would take this knowledge and this feeling and this reality above any million or trillion dollars out there. I would take it over all the diamonds, all the luxuries, all the fame and fortune.
Through my eyes, I am the richest fucking human being on this planet.
I will not let the poorest among us convince me otherwise.