M. SCOTT MORRIS: Pondering the nature of wealth



I belong to a discussion group that meets twice a month. We pick a single topic to cover, unless we get distracted, then the possibilities are infinite.

We stayed on track the other night and pondered the nature of wealth.

Right now, as I sit in my kitchen writing this, I’m curious about your ideas concerning wealth, simply because the group discussion covered so much territory.

Since this is my column, we’ll start with me. I went prepared with a quote from the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu: “He who knows he has enough is truly rich.” (I think you could fit “she” in there without changing the meaning, excepting a few things hardly worth mentioning.)

I can honestly say I’ve hit that standard for stretches of time, but I certainly don’t live it, if you know what I mean.

It’s easy to slip into the mind-set of “more, more, more.” I think those three words are written into American DNA, if not human DNA.

Manifest Destiny much?

When I think about wealth, it conjures up pictures of all the cool things money can buy. Do you remember “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and how each episode featured a yacht that came complete with gold-plated bathroom sinks?

That always seemed like going overboard, but I guess if you were flooded with cash you’d have a hard time spending it all, so you’d need to purchase gold-plated bathroom sinks just to let yourself sleep at night – “I’ve spent my quota today. Thank the heavens. Now, I can rest.”

But my friends didn’t talk about things. They were far more concerned with the experiences money makes possible.

One’s idea of wealth was not having to worry when he picked up the tab for dinner with his eclectic and extended family. He can’t do it every day, but he can do it.

Another lit up as she talked about hosting 100 or so of her closet relatives for yearly family reunions.

There were nods of agreement when one of our fellows said the true measure of wealth is the time it affords, as well as the fact it allows more opportunities to help others.

He also said having money to comfortably pay bills cuts down on anxiety, and that inspired another to say she’s known people who didn’t possess much but deserved to be considered wealthy exactly because they didn’t live with constant anxiety.

She also said you’re wealthy if you have your health, and she didn’t say it as a platitude. I suspect she meant it down to her bones.

Maybe you’ve generated a few ideas. Before you go off to ponder them, let me add one more to our pile of thoughts. It’s from my dad.

“Hey, I’ve never missed a meal,” he’s said many, many times. “When you think about the rest of the world, that says a heck of a lot.”

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at scott.morris@journalinc.com or (662) 678-1589.

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