It’s a quotation that my grandfather has continued to pass on to me since I was a young lad. Even today, at age 91, he still manages to catch me when I least expect it.
There’s this American (perhaps more of a Western) concept that says that wealth is measured in what “material” things I possess. Yet, I know for myself (and I can only conjecture about the experiences of others) that all of the material things that I have thought would make me “wealthy” if I amassed more of it only lead me to wanting more. There are millionaires out there that still look for ways to make more money. There are men and women who are anorexic that look in the mirror every day and say to themselves, “just a little bit more; I’m not quite there.” Conversely, there are bodybuilders that are bigger than they’ve ever been (and bigger than most, if not all, of their competition) and still look in the mirror and say, “Nah, I’m not quite there yet.” The need for the material is one that is not only an impostor (it is a false need, an illusion), but it is a desire that is unable to be quenched.
I remember a phone conversation that I had with my father once. He asked me a simple question; “How are you doing?” I thought about that question. When I answered, I told him exactly how I was doing. “Well, Dad, let’s see, I’m white, I’m male, I’m married to an incredible woman, I live in Hawaii, I have my own car, my own apartment, I can walk, I can run, I’m healthy, I speak four languages, I’m surrounded by great people every day, I’m literate, my entire family is alive and well… I’m doing pretty well.”
It wasn’t boasting at all. It was the truth. Now, I didn’t have millions of dollars with 24 cars, with 5 different Swiss bank accounts, but I didn’t have to. I recognized the value of my own life at that split second. I made an observation of how truly wealthy I was (and I am moreso now – I have more experience: more days have gone by and I’m in better shape with more knowledge of myself et cetera).
This doesn’t just apply to those who have the qualities that I listed above. Wealth is in all of our lives, we simply have to find it. Perhaps we could ask ourselves, “Where am I wealthy? Where do I cherish my life?” We think of those in “poor” parts of the world that don’t have what we have and say what a shame it is. Yet, why aren’t we thinking about how free they are, how liberating it must feel to be unencumbered by the expectations of technology and the worry about what my future is going to be like or what others will think of me. How truly free they must be who lack material possessions (just to look at it that way for once).
Many times we get down (again I speak from my experience in this American society) because we don’t think others like us, because the food at a certain restaurant wasn’t good, because we don’t have anything to wear, because we ruin our shoes, because our glasses broke, we didn’t pass a test, because we break a bone in our bodies, because we were duped, robbed, hoodwinked, beat up, fired, yelled at, offended et cetera….we get down because we lose our shoes.
Yet we forget about those who have been raped, shot, and/or exiled from their home for asking questions or speaking their minds, people who have had limbs amputated, blown off or mangled…those who’ve never had a job from which to be fired, those born with disabilities …. and still, still they function… They have to deal with a society filled with people that complain about getting out late from work. They walk around regarded as freaks, cripples, vagrants, vagabonds, gypsies and scum. Jackie Robinson, regarded as one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport, had it written in his contract that he would not complain when the spectators ridiculed him, threw things at him and spit on him.
Let the past go, it’s done. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Finish the day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You will begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Let the past go. The future isn’t here yet. What is here is NOW. NOW is HERE. I suggest that we all endeavor not to live in the past or for the future, but here in the now. You are wealthy beings beyond what you can imagine. Live, Enjoy, Relish, Fulfill and Absorb all the things that surround you in the present. Frolic in the revery of your now. Few things, if any, will make you more of a better person more quickly than the experience of the current moment. Live it, Seek it, Enjoy it, Relish it, Smell it, Taste it, Do it, Be it. All of it is yours and your life.
Tomorrow doesn’t give you a second chance to relive today.
Don’t worry about the shoes that you don’t have. When you believe that, somewhere, there is a man without the use of or the absence of his legs… Shoes are simply NOT on his mind. I would wager that that person understands the value of a smile than most of us.