Short thoughts today as on location in Portugal giving time to being with family and having very poor internet!
I used to think that being rich would mean I could have the things I desired. In my wildest dreams, I owned that red Ferrari and my own plane and luxury yacht. Of course, I never really thought this a realistic ambition and in truth, when I acquired my first ever car, an old Singer Gazelle with rusted wings for exactly £100, I remember the thrill at sitting behind the wheel. It had a walnut dashboard for heaven’s sake!
Many years on, having been through times of relative material comfort and times when bankruptcy stalked at our door, I have come to realize that being rich has nothing to do with how much I own. Material things offer a chimera of satisfaction that is both fleeting and shallow. No sooner is the coveted item acquired than the next best version is available and just out of reach. Now don’t get me wrong, I love new stuff, I love to experience new things. I did really enjoy that old Singer Gazelle until the rust took over and I transferred my affections to the shiny white Triumph that came next!
But as the years have progressed and I’ve flown that plane, driven that car and visited that far flung place, I realize these things are all relative and their impact on my well-being fleeting. I doubt many reading this would disagree, but how often have I fallen for the allure of the next best thing. So what makes me feel rich and never ceases to satisfy? In my experience, it is not defined by acquisition, but by my capacity to give. How does that work? It works when my own life and being is replete with that which can be shared with others. It can be material when that material enhances the lack of another, it can be time given, meals shared, thoughts expressed, comfort extended, lives transformed for the better. It can be small in the eyes of those who judge success by numbers or it may impact way beyond what we can touch or see. But in the end, it feels like true riches.
Ironically, this kind of life cannot happen if we have nothing to give, and this paradox means acquisition is an essential element. Now, though, my acquisition has a purpose beyond myself. Having the resources to share with those around us brings true satisfaction. Those resources can be material, but often the most precious gift is time coupled with the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual capacity to enhance the life of another. Paul seems to be pressing this very point when writing to the Corinthians in his second letter, “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” Understanding these thoughts is one thing, living this way is another. But the deeper satisfaction of the times when I do give to others grants a sense of being rich that comes from nothing else.