I really appreciated his telling me that then. He has a decade of wisdom on me, and I was pretty young at the time (23 or so), so it felt good to have a little bit of validation that my freedom-lovin' lifestyle was--at the very least--not a bad thing, necessarily.
Over time, I've waxed a little nostalgic when I thought about that period of my life. In the intervening years I got married and found myself worrying about finances nearly all the time. The crazy thing was that our means were plenty. It seemed that what was causing the stress was the idea of needing to hold tightly to what we had. I can say honestly that the time in my life when I had at least joint access to substantial financial means (though I was strongly discouraged from spending money and so did not) was the least happy time of my life where money was concerned.
And beyond that realization, a simultaneous change has taken place in my attitude toward money, as the reality of being a parent and providing for somebody in addition to myself set in. See, back when I had that conversation with Raul, I still believed that money, wealth, rich people were somehow evil just by virtue of their association with the so-called filth that was the driving force behind capitalism. I actually believed that anybody who had money had probably done something rotten along the way to get it.
Yeah, I don't believe that anymore. The majority of the people I know who are wealthy have worked really hard, really honestly to get to that point. And I really like money. Money is great! I welcome prosperity and the freedom from finance-related stress that it affords. However, I have also remembered that when I was poorest, when I had the least in my possession, was also when I was most generous with what I did have to offer, monetarily or otherwise. I believed--on some deeper level--that my needs would be taken care of.
And they were.
It was that sense of over-abundance-despite-all-outward-signs that I hoped to one day return to...
Today's New Activity: Meditation on the Lessons of George Bailey
I don't think I've made it any secret how much I love It's a Wonderful Life. That I saw it first at a young age has, I think, a lot to do with my perpetually hopeful outlook on the goodness of man and on life and love and friendship in general. I feel like that movie alone could teach a person as much about what it is to be a righteous and loving person as any of the great books associated with the world's religions. It is during the times in my life when I've lost sight of the messages contained therein that I've counted myself most unfulfilled.
Today some events outside of my control made for an unpleasant and briefly stressful financial situation. I found myself worrying about the future even as part of me knew how little worrying about it could do to remedy it (this is not to say that action is not required to amend certain predicaments--I mean worrying in a generalized, aimless way).
And then, as quickly as the stress entered my life, it was gone. I think this has largely to do with the fact that I got to spend a wonderful afternoon with Kalil, who was especially sweet and well-behaved today. I swear sometimes I think he knows on a soul level just what I need. And the two of us were home alone because my parents went to visit the mother of a family friend, who is very ill and hospitalized. There they were: two awe-inspiring things to ponder: family and health, my gratitude for each alone great enough to overshadow any stress about money, or any material thing really.
Beyond that, I considered the richness of friends, of laughter in my life. I considered my warm clothes and the beautiful place in which I live. I considered good food and the wonders of technology. I considered the happiness in finding like-minded people and enjoying the company of coworkers. I considered great movies and books and works of art. I considered the joy of driving and of dancing and of singing terribly, and terribly loudly at that. I considered kissing and sweetness and honesty and good intentions acted upon. I considered love.
And so, after spending some time remembering what it really means to be wealthy, through all the overcast skies that marked this fall day, I found myself feeling freer and happier and more full of gratitude than I've been in a very long time. I felt that I was that 23-year old young woman again, infused with the senses of wonder and hope and joyful wanderlust and the absolute knowledge that my life is blessed beyond measure.
It is my sincere hope that--whoever you are, wherever you are--this day finds you feeling the same...