As a little girl, I dreamed of wealth and grandeur. I fantasized about a life without want – a life of fame and of palpable material success. My dreams were full of big houses, grand pianos, fancy cars, beautiful dresses, and fine jewelry. I would be the hostess, the star of lavish events – cocktail parties, charity balls, and concerts. I would be sought after and cherished by people everywhere. I thought wealth and fame would make me happy.
I never found the spotlight or earned the fortune of my dreams, but I have tasted financial success and material gain. I have experienced enough glamour and opulence to understand it a little better. There is excitement in those first flavors for sure, but the taste that is left behind is bitter and full of disappointment. In truth, material gain by itself adds nothing to life except complication. I am reminded of a story someone once told me (my rendition):
A young entrepreneur walking the beach one day encountered a bum lying in the sand, contentedly gazing out over the ocean. Normally, seeing this would inspire little more than a disapproving glance from the young tycoon, but today he felt driven and ready to prove a point; he needed to expose what he saw – a misguided and meaningless existence. He stopped and turned back to the bum lying in the sand.
“Why don’t you do something with your life, you bum?” said the young business man.
The bum, interrupted from his reverie, glanced up at the well dressed young man. After a moment of consideration and with an amused grin, he responded “What would you have me do?”
The young tycoon, indignant at the wayfarer’s nonchalance, fired back, “You could contribute to society. Get a job!”
“And why would I do that?” asked the bum.
“So you can earn money!” the young executive nearly shouted.
The bum returned his gaze to the sea. “But what do I need with money?” he asked.
Face reddening and anger mounting, the tycoon responded, “Money is what makes the world go around, man! You need it to live!”
The bum merely chuckled, “I do?”
“Yes, you do! You need to be able to pay your taxes, and buy things for yourself,” said the young man.
“What would I need to buy for myself?” the bemused bum asked.
“A house, and a car, wouldn’t you like to raise a family, invest and save your money?” replied the tycoon.
The bum smiled warmly at the young man. “Why do I need all those things? Why do I need to save money?”
“Oh good lord, man! You need to save money so that you can retire someday!” the poor executive was now furious.
“Retire, why?” asked the bum.
“Why?! So you can enjoy yourself, relax, and have fun! You can do whatever you want.” Satisfied that he had made his point, the young executive stared triumphantly at the bum.
The man looked at him for a moment, smiled, and then returned his gaze to the horizon. “But I am already enjoying myself.”
So, I understand what is wrong with the way I tried to live; now I just have to dig myself out from the hole my lifestyle created. Therein lies the challenge.
Wish me luck (or send me money).
Peace and love to you all!