Oh, that’s rich!

Driving around a borrowed car worth more well more than a year’s soldier’s pay makes me wonder about a lot of things.

Firstly, it’s very strange seeing how people react to me as I’m seen in such a car. There’s almost a sense of awe or admiration you get when guys stop, take a second look and give that “must be nice” vibe. I get a lot of extra smiles from ladies, strangely–whether it’s from the car’s status or my confidence from the perceived social boost.

The car is a symbol of greater wealth. Driving something like it makes me seem like someone with a lot of disposable cash, like someone who’s doing well and is fairly well off–which has become the overall goal of most people nowadays.

Right? Isn’t it fair to think that most good boys and girls in the U.S. just want to have wealth–to have toys and enough in the bank to get whatever they want. It’s a goal to have money.

But what does the money represent? Is it happiness itself? Does money supposedly equal comfort which equals harmony which equals happiness?

There was a bit of a jump there, the one about harmony. Please pardon.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently–what it is to belong. I think we all wonder about what it takes to feel like we’re accomplishing something–that our lives have purpose. We’ve sold ourselves in this country to thinking that accomplishment and wealth are tied into each other and that if one has wealth, then one has accomplished something. Achieving milestones feels good.

But aren’t we confusing money with achievement? Wealth with harmony? Would you honestly rather be rich or happy? One doesn’t automatically lead to the other and there are thousands of examples of lottery winners and “successful” and “accomplished” (i.e. rich) people who have miserable lives.

If you had to choose just one, would it be wealth or happiness? Happiness, right? I mean, that’s what we strive for, isn’t it? To be happy? And one of the big contributors to happiness is a daily affirmation that we have value, that we matter. Sure, crack can make you “happy” for a bit, but it does nothing to give us value.

So what gives us value? We are created beings, made in the image of a creator, and we like to create. Be it art or a table or a spreadsheet–each of us is wired in a certain way to figure things out and make stuff. Some people LIKE to write computer code–nuts, eh? Some people LIKE to figure out mathematical systems, others the melodies of a song, others meters of poetry, still others with construction or anything.

It makes me wonder if we all were created to do a specific thing. You hear about it every once in a while–that someone found their “calling” or some such. Some guy might have been a businessman for 20 years, only to find his “passion” in wine making. He gladly ditches the suit and literally goes tromping through the dirt and stomping on grapes, but he’s happy.

That’s really the crux of the issue: finding what we’re made to do. I’d rather be poor and working a job I love rather than miserable pulling in seven figures.

Finding our place, our calling, helps us slip into the role we were made for. It helps us find harmony with life. Not that we’re ever completely in tune through just that, but we get close when we get honest and let ourselves examine our lives.

What if we changed our viewpoints on wealth? What if, instead of measuring how close we are to buying a bigger house or a nicer car, we looked at how close we were to finding what it is that resonates with our souls? If, for me, that calling or passion is writing, then instead of jockeying for a promotion or a posh job, what if I invested time in learning how to write more effectively? Wouldn’t that bring me closer to harmony with life? To happiness? Wouldn’t that make me a richer man?

Moreover, it would be a selfless wealth, easily sharable with others, meant to be a blessing to anyone who saw it. I’d think that the businessman turned wine maker would feel so much more pride when handing off his first bottle to a friend than any series of performance evaluations to a boss. And, likewise, the friend accepting the bottle made with love, would feel a lot more apt to appreciate it than he would an entry on a restaurant’s menu.


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

4 responses to “Oh, that’s rich!”

  1. BWJones says :

    Studies have shown that money *will* make you happy, but only up to a point. Once you have the basics covered (food, housing, medical etc…), money has a decreasing influence on happiness.

  2. Felyne says :

    BWJones… if you’re not eating I can’t imagine you’d be very happy.

    At the end of the day, no one can tell you what makes you happy, only you know that. And every human is unique, one mans rubbish is another mans treasure.

    Just ask yourself this: am I doing this because I want to, or because someone else thinks I should?

  3. Beka says :

    i know rich people who HAVE everything money can buy and the only thing that makes them happy is the alcohol they consume. i’ve found that once you get all those THINGS you thought would make you happy, it ends up being an “oh…this is…IT? THIS is what i thought would make me happy?”
    nah, happiness doesn’t come from money or things…it comes from inside, from your Creator, from the people you love, from doing what makes your happy, and if you happen to make money at it, great. if not, so be it.

  4. Radio Free Babylon says :

    When I was down and out, getting meals from friends or charities, life had a peculiar new buzz to it. Happy? No. But REAL.

    I’ve always said “Money can’t buy happiness – but it will sure rent it for a while.”

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