Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Rich Are You?

This was an actual question that someone sent to me recently.  I have not communicated with him before. His first email to me said, "nice boots... how rich are you?"  He was from somewhere in the United States.

How rich am I?

I will answer it this way:  I am richer than I could ever imagine....

I have a wonderful partner who cares for me deeply, and tenderly looks after me.  He is my rock.  He keeps me focused, strong, and positive.  He makes sure that I am safe, well, and protected.  He loves me unconditionally.  He is a testament to strength, fortitude, endurance, and faith.  He is the foundation of my soul.  What other words may I use?  How does one measure his richness by his blessings of his best half?

I am rich with the love and support from family.  They nurture me, care for me, love me, and keep me sane and well-grounded.  All of my siblings, nieces, nephews, "greats," cousins, aunts, uncles ... the whole fam-damily -- as many as we are -- we are who we are because of our bond of blood.  My siblings, in particular, are a testament to what love is all about.  We all are different in many ways.  However, overall, our bond is deep, enduring, and its richness is undescribable.

I am rich with strong bonds of enduring friendship with people who know what a real friend is all about.  They do so many things to show their love.  Some of my friends have done that for me for over 50 years, and some more recently.  It has been said that you can measure how rich you are by the strength of your bonds of friendship.  I do not take these bonds lightly.  I do what I can to extend myself to caring for my friends as they care for me.  Each and every day I am made richer by these wonderful, thoughtful, caring souls.

I am rich with learning patience every day. I care for my 96-year-old aunt who has Alzheimer's Disease, as well as general old-age infirmities. Under the clouded thoughts and occasional blank stares lies a woman who has done a lot in her own life, and who loves me deeply. This experience of enabling her to continue to live on her own terms, in her own home, with activities and actions that keep her life meaningful enrichen me in ways that I cannot describe, and make me a better person. I have learned how to listen better, to observe better, and how to be a much more patient man.

I am rich with the ability to extend caring to a large network of senior pals. Helping them out, taking them to get groceries, fixing things and doing home repairs, preparing tax returns... these people are the net that sustain my life of voluntarism and my heart, which makes me richer than anything else: the ability to extend yourself to make someone else's life better makes one rich in his soul.

I am rich with community.  I live in an exciting place.  Right outside the door (almost) of the Capital of the United States.  I live in a state (Maryland) that is thoughtful in its approach and acceptance of my partner and my relationship (and isn't hateful, hurtful, and backward as some other states).

I live with rich diversity. My local government is provided by a county, not a city. The county is strong and vibrant.  Its government is inclusive.  It listens.  It responds.  It may take some whacks on the proverbial head to get some local elected officials and county leaders to listen ... but they do.  We're all in this together, and the richness of my community composed of almost a million residents who hail from all corners of the world demonstrates how diversity makes us all stronger and better as a people.

I am rich with strong faith.  I have deep faith and belief in powers beyond my own.  I have faith in humanity, civility, and what's right -- rather than what's wrong.  I believe....

I am rich with a job that I love.  I enjoy working.  I enjoy the heck out of doing what I do.  Words cannot describe how rich one feels when one wakes each morning and says, "oh, goodie!  I get to go to work today!  Yippie!"  (Seriously, I am insanely happy with my employment....)

Materially, I have enough resources to live comfortably, in a nice house that we built, and to have things that make life fun, like my Harley.  I owe no debt.  I do not carry a balance on any credit cards.  I live life responsibly.  I practice financial responsibility.  Because I have managed my resources well, I have had sufficient discretionary funds to buy some boots and leather items from time to time.  But I do not spend money that I don't have.

I am also rich by means of measurement with many other intangibles.  Seriously, to me, that is what makes life "rich."  It's not money or things.  It's people.  As they told George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, "no man is a failure who has friends" and he was "the richest man in town."

Yep, I consider myself to be among the richest men in town ... all because of the relationships with the people who make my life that way.

Life is short:  cherish your family and your friends.  They are, after all, what makes life rich and rewarding.


Anonymous said...

It is incredibly forward that someone would ask you, out-of-the-blue, how "rich" you were. But I understand why -- you have excellent taste in the boots you have.

You credit our family for your richness. I agree. If it were not for them, I would be lost and certainly not be where I am today. We owe a lot to Mom and Dad, and all of our siblings, for helping us to become the men we are.

I am richer in knowing you, but made most rich by loving you.


Your "little" twin brother, J

Anonymous said...

Continuing with the family commentary, your sister is adding.

You are rich because of what you closed with -- your favorite line from your favorite holiday movie, which I have watched you shed tears every year for who knows how long -- richness is measured by the people he keeps close and around him.

We are blessed to have you in our family, to share, to love, to hold, to care for. We see what you do for others and no matter how much you say "aw shucks" it isn't easy. We know that. You make it seem easy, because of all things, knowing your heart makes those of us touched by it the richest people on earth.

Love you,

Your big little middle sister, M