“I don’t want money. Only people who pay their bills want that.” Oscar Wilde
Money is a necessity of life. We worry about it. We dream about it. We invent ways to make more of it. Most people have some. Some people have too much. Too many people need more. According to my accountant, I have enough money to last me the rest of my life – if I die within the week.
Existentially, we know that money won’t make us truly happy – but we keep trying.TV reality shows, commercials and social media platforms excel at showing us the lives of the rich and famous, convincing us that although we are neither rich nor famous, we still deserve a yacht. Millions of Americans, including me, are nearly drowning in debt, dog-paddling to keep their heads above water.
Readers of this column will know I’ve been restructuring and reinventing myself lately, hoping to create a more substantial and memorable legacy. More importantly, I’m learning to take uncomfortable steps to achieve a life worth living versus one that limps toward the finish line.
Through my introspection, a clearing appears when my mind is relaxed and disconnected from the internet and other modern marvels. A place where the weight of making money is lighter. Within this clearing is the realization that what makes life rich can not be bought.
Ann Landers once wrote, ‘Too many people today know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Annie has been dead for over twenty years, and who knows in what decade she originally penned the phrase, but it is as relevant in 2023 as ever. We are so driven and engaged in achieving things of monetary worth that we lose track of what’s truly valuable.
For example, on Christmas morning, children worldwide learn one of life’s most profound lessons: Owning a toy is the end of the joy. How many parents have struggled and saved and fought to get their child that season’s most sought-after toy, only to find it abandoned on top of the others before kick-off on New Year’s Day?
Why is that? It will take many years’ worth of Christmases and forgotten toys before we understand that the rapture associated with being alive isn’t in owning the prize, it’s in the thrill of the chase.
Imagine if that tornado landed Dorothy Gale at the Wizard’s doorstep in Oz. Some might consider her lucky. Not me. Sure, she might return to bum-fuck-Kansas a bit faster but think about what that shortcut would have cost her: Schmoozing with a Bubble Bitch, Midget Karaoke, getting high with her BFFs, a behind-the-scenes tour of a real castle, a personalized death threat from a genuine witch in real smoke, the flying monkey petting zoo, and those ruby slippers! Shortcut? No, thank you. I want the Yellow Brick Road experience as advertised.
If you’ve read this far, you must have nothing else to do, so indulge me. Let’s pretend that everyone is on the same financial plane. There is no jealousy or competitiveness because we all have everything we want, more or less.
OK, now you’re ‘rich’ and own everything you want, the answer to the next question is what makes your life priceless. Ready? What brings you joy?
What in life makes you happy? Friendships? Your character? Your talents?
Money cannot buy passion or emotion. It isn’t money that breaks your heart. Money cannot buy experiences, memories made, or the rush of risks you’ve taken. The warmth of the sun, the hug of a loved one, the sound of a voice, and the floral explosion of Spring — all free and arguably more valuable than money.
There isn’t enough money printed to equal the unconditional love of a pet. Money can buy you a mighty fine dog, but only love will wag its tail.
When it comes to value, we often forget to consider ourselves. We, as people, have worth. Having personal values makes us valuable. Money cannot buy loyalty, humility, compassion, manners, honesty, a sense of humor, or kindness, but having people in your life who possess these qualities is worth more than their weight in gold.
Be that person. Know your worth.
I challenge you to take a few minutes and play along. Close a door or turn off a light and think about what brings you joy. Be honest. Be bold and be unapologetic. Celebrate what makes you happy. Chances are it isn’t wrapped around your finger or parked in your driveway.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment on this posting or suggest future topics. Until next time…