The Greatest Investment You Will Ever Make: A Moment With Bill Reflection
I have nothing against rich people. I know that if you have read some of my other articles you might think that I have this bubbling cauldron of hatred for the rich, but that simply is not the case. What I have is a strong distaste for excess and that is quite a different kettle of fish.
Bev and I stopped at Burger King this past weekend, and after we had gotten our food (and I use the word “food” loosely) we both spotted a Hummer parked in the parking lot. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but in that situation there was a novel waiting to be written. The irony was oozing from the scene laid out before us, as the owners of that $100,000 vehicle decided to save a little on food for that day by dining at Burger King.
I could write an article asking “what is the point” but I’ll wait for another day to do that, and I will wait until another day to point out the incredible ego necessary to buy a vehicle that serves no practical purpose other than to scream to the masses that you have money and they don’t.
No, that is not my purpose today.
SO WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE, BILL?
My folks wanted me to go to college so I could have a better life than they had. At the time that they said that I understood them to mean economically, and at the time it made a certain amount of sense. It was the 1960’s at the time, and businesses ruled and consumers drooled, and if you were going to make money then you needed to learn how to make money, so off to school I went.
And I hated it! No, I didn’t hate college. Man alive, I loved college and all the freedom of being on my own. I might have loved it a bit too much, but again, that’s the subject of a future article. No, what I hated were the business classes and the macroeconomics and microeconomics and supply and demand and on and on and on, and I hated it so much that I got two degrees, one in Marketing and one in Economics, and finally by God I was ready to conquer the business world and finally…finally….have a better life than my parents.
So I played the game. Before I was out of college I bought my first property, and over the years I owned twelve different homes, and over the years I owned and operated three businesses, and I had six-figure incomes and bought the toys, baby, because you gotta have toys, and, well, dad was dead so he never saw his son the big businessman, but mom was alive and proud and I was…..missing something.
I could feel it in my gut….a hollowness….something important was missing, but I couldn’t figure out what that was…if it had a price tag on it then I could buy it, and yet I didn’t own it, so ergo it must not have a price tag, and how the hell was I supposed to buy that all-important commodity if I didn’t know what it was or what it cost.
THE COST CAME
Oh yes, it did indeed have a cost. It damn near cost me my life.
November 16, 2006, I almost died. Mr. Businessman had hit a personal wall. Mr. Businessman had chased his tail for so long that he collapsed from the effort, empty of the nourishment he so desperately sought for so many years. The hospital patched me up, then off I went to treatment for an illness that was eating me alive from the inside out, and after a month I emerged completely confused.
Everything I believed to be true prior to November 16, 2006 had all been a lie.
My parents were wrong. A “better life” could not be found in my bank statements. A “better life” could not be measured by the size of my toys or the dividends from my investments.
The chase had all been a waste of time, for what I needed so badly could not be purchased, could not be bartered and could not be negotiated.
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THE GREATEST INVESTMENT
I needed to learn to love myself.
It’s interesting, isn’t it? My parents had a good life. They had a strong marriage, lived simply and within their means, were respected by many and were honorable people, and yet they wanted me to have a “better life.”
My parents understood the value of hard work, their word was as good as gold and they always reached out to help those in need, and yet they wanted me to have a “better life.”
My parents, evidently, had no idea what they had, but today I know very well….they had it all.
Perhaps that is why I think Hummers are such a silly statement. They measure nothing of importance, not the size of the man’s penis or the size of his character. They are simply a blatant statement that he has money and by extension he is important, but nowhere in the Hummer owner’s manual does it say anything about Hummers guaranteeing that you will love yourself if you drive one, and that is the only guarantee that I need to be happy in this life.
I need to love myself, and once I have mastered that lesson I can then love others.
And if I have those two things I will be the richest man on Earth.
So, the greatest investment that you can make? Invest in yourselves. Invest in your character and invest in the depth of your feelings. Become a compassionate human being and become a passionate human being. Learn empathy and learn to be multi-layered, and learn that the true wealth of life is measured in how much of yourself you give to others and not how much of others you take for yourself.
The most important thing in life, namely love, has no price tag. It is not subject to inflation or deflation and it is safe from the vagaries of the marketplace. It is the rarest of rare, a glimmering gem that is timeless and cannot be devalued, and if your personal storeroom is lined with love then you will never be wanting in this life.
Sorry Mom….Sorry Dad…..the “better life” cannot be bought or sold, and it cannot be found in college textbooks or business manuals….it exists in each of us at birth and awaits only our active participation.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”