Being wealthy is not enough

We all want to be rich…until, at some point in our lives we finally come to the conclusion that it is not going to happen. Making money is going to tease us but never stop at our door, like a postman with no letters during the festive season.

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Published: Fri 19 Nov 2010, 9:52 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:47 PM

The greatest advantage of wealth is that it gives you leisure. Not the leisure as you and I see it today, of lounging on the sofa, eating popcorn and watching drivel on the television but the leisure Plato talked about, the time to think and be creative, to contemplate, that awesome, incredible gift that sets us apart.

Not just that, but freedom from the money problem is perhaps the single largest energy form for making the world a better place. Which is why those who are truly liberated in financial terms and do nothing constructive with it are perhaps the most criminal in the world.

The arts, the sciences, sport, medicine, the expression of any genius lies in it being able to find the money to sustain and nourish itself. Without which the greatest talent can simply wither away. And it does. The word ‘patrons’ has been poorly applied in modern times but it does have an intrinsic goodness because it shores up talent and creates channels for those skills to flourish. It is when the wealthy refuse to put back into where they have taken out from and engage in ostentation that everyone loses. They are the poorer for it as are we.

For most of us, this fiscal repose is a distant dream. We have to co-exist with the fact that the mundane call to pay bills and survive will inexorably detract from our ability to perform at maximum, whatever our endeavour. Sometimes, we will even have to deflect or thwart it and even destroy attractive options because we cannot afford the luxury of following a dream.

It does make us more resilient and flexible and definitely more practical than the very rich who often enough, only use their money to make more money while ignoring their capacity for making the world a better place.

For them, the fear is of losing the comforts and perks of affluence.

For the rest of us the fear is visceral... of being inconsequential and unseen, unheard of and unwanted. It is a continuingly sobering thought that if we got off the world no body would notice. Which is why we scamper about in the rat race looking for some identity, why we join clubs and groups and seek shelter under labels and designations. This is our substitute for wealth and also why we are wafer thin sensitive about losing jobs and job titles. We call it security but what it actually boils down to is a lack of alternatives.

That’s what the rich have, all the options to exercise. And then, so many of them don’t do a thing with it but be indolent and indulgent towards themselves. Spending money on yourself is not altruism. And one does wonder how our pursuit for excellence would suffer if we were to strike it rich and then harm exactly what we should be enhancing ... our natural abilities.

Should we be grateful that we have to strive, to make that extra effort or should we resent the fact that the banal forces us into so many sorry compromises.

Perhaps one of the contributory problems lies in there being too many diversions and, therefore, commitments. Our lives are cluttered with tacky aspirations, the desire to invest in symbols, to commit ourselves to soaring expenses and then expend our creative energy in maintaining the charade. Consequently, we are exhausted long before total potential ever gets a look in.

Imagine if we were to sit down and cut out some of the ground clutter from our personal radars, prune the branches, tighten up.

We’d probably discover we are a whole lot richer in cash terms than we thought...richer than most of our tribe.

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