Sometimes, I like to imagine I’m someone else. Someone who doesn’t have to worry about income on a daily basis. It’s easy to look at a guy in a suit walking out of a Starbucks with a fancy venti drink in one hand and a cell phone in another and assume he’s the type who doesn’t have to choose between seeing the doctor and eating that week. I’d like to think I’m right in the middle of the economic divide. I’m probably between someone like that guy in the suit with the venti and a homeless person. But the truth is, I’m more likely to become homeless than I am successful.
I wonder how the world must look from that man’s eyes and those of others like him? Are they so wrapped up in their own lives they simply can’t appreciate how lucky they’ve been to maybe have a friend who could introduce them at a networking party, or a family member who knew to call an acquaintance regarding a job when they entered the job market? How maybe they caught the interviewer on a good day? How they were fortunate they could afford the business attire to make themselves appear respectable? How they had a safe place to store those clean clothes, take a shower, and have enough sleep?
Rich people never seem to worry about things we take for granted. They don’t care if the price of gas jumps by a dollar a gallon if they’re making over six figures a year. They don’t think about how they’re able to afford high quality schooling for their children, almost guaranteeing their kids a bright and promising future.
Do they actually think about living out their dreams? If I had the kind of money someone driving a Lamborghini had, I’d use it to explore the world, hike mountains in the Pacific Northwest, or soak in the sun from a tropical beach; not quibble about making more. What all rich people have in possessions and liquid assets is more than enough to live comfortably (but simply), and yet, they stay in the game, stressing themselves out. They commute for hours in traffic to an office and buy superfluous items instead of focusing on finding their passion.
I’d like to believe if I were that fortunate, I’d be the exception. I’d be the guy who didn’t go overboard with his money. I’d use it to carve out a normal life while also giving myself enough time to read all the books I wanted. (the Twilight Zone’s “Time Enough at Last” situation is very appealing… just food and books). I’d write to my heart’s content, maintain my health with an hour of exercise, and never once set an alarm to wake up.
One of my favorite books is Replay by Ken Grimwood. It’s a story about a man who discovers he repeatedly dies at age 43, and restarts his life at age 18. Again and again. Thousands of times. Think what a person could do with that kind of time. Not immortality. Not even complete certainty. To know who will be your true friends and who will fail you. To move past such trivialities like a mortgage, and try to find some purpose in your life. During one of his lifetimes, he locks himself in his office for 8-10 hours/day for years and reads. During another, he discovers he has a small talent for writing and cultivates it.
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
In reality, none of us (besides Bill Murray) have thousands of years to live. In our limited time, it seems as though very few of us are doing more than just living day to day. The poor – in this group I include the poorest of the poor: those in developing countries, and those in first world countries who feel left behind – are mainly focused on having enough money so they can wake up each day and have food, clothes, and lodging. The rich – from the billionaires to those who could liquidate everything they had and still live well – seem so worried about the loss of their wealth, they seem to work even harder to maintain or expand it.
No one in either group, with some exceptions, tries to take themselves out of the equation and focus on doing what they truly want to do – what they were meant to do. The poor are mostly incapable of doing so and staying alive. For the rich…money seems to have taken the place of their passion.
Turner Wright is a freelance writer with an engineering background. He is originally from Texas, but usually finds himself in the Bay Area if not some random corner of Asia. He is currently the Digital Media Manager for Airbnbhell.com and TravelVisaPro.com. He enjoys running long distances, eating more than necessary to do said running, and traveling to other countries.
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