Thursday, November 15, 2007

Epiphany about Wealth

I experienced an epiphany last week that came upon me lightly, swiftly, like a butterfly quietly swooping into my thoughts.

The epiphany was a deep realization that more money, more financial security, wouldn't make me happier or more content.

Now don't get me wrong. We don't have a large bank balance or substantial investments. We're not wealthy people by any humanly measure. From 2002 through early 2005, Ron was laid off twice (both jobs outsourced to foreign countries) and unemployed for more than 12 months. And of course, we closed our beloved start-up business within months after 9/11. Between those three unforeseen financial catastrophes, our reserves were used up. Gone. But we were still standing, albeit empty-handed.

Over the last 2 1/2 years, our finances have stabilized, and, in fact, we're again saving. And although Andrea will off to college in another 18 months, she's a smart young woman, and will undoubtedly attract scholarships and grants.

My epiphany was profound because, I guess, I've always connected happiness with money in hand. A legacy from my parents, I suppose, who lived through dramatic cash flow ups and downs as I grew up.

But in recent months, I've witnessed unhappy people with plenty of money. Wealthy people with health problems that money can't heal. Even people for whom money seemed to complicate, not simplify, their lives.

If we had substantially more funds, we might take a more exotic yearly vacation. We might drive a newer car. We might even buy a small vacation home in the desert or mountains. And those would certainly be pleasant and fun.

But we don't need them. Our needs are met, and we are blessedly content.

This God-given revelation has brought me a new sense of peace. I feel calmer. And my blood pressure hasn't been better for years.

And that is a clear message from God, and a truly delightful gift for today, my birthday.