Gosh I Hope I Never Get To Be Too Rich
Weeburn Country Club in Darien
Your Ticket to Gracious Living?
Wealthy people -- I mean really wealthy people -- often say that money isn't everything; that money, no matter how much you've got, can't buy happiness.
It's only fair to tell you from the start that I'm not wealthy, by any stretch of the imagination. In other words, I'm one of you (and if you're one of the exceptions, please accept my condolences.)
I only tell you this so you know I am speaking, not from personal knowledge, but rather from observation.
Pity the Rich
Strange as it may seem, I agree with those who say money isn't everything; in fact, I actually look upon most rich people with pity; I feel sorry for them!
Sure, you say: Look at all they have that we have to feel sorry for. Cash in the bank, the best house in the best suburban community, a nice boat, a Rolls Royce, their kids go to the best colleges; their wives work hard at the Ladies Sewing Club, play hard at the golf course and work their fingers to the bone volunteering at the annual clothes drive.
At first blush, being rich doesn't look so bad: But look again!
Those high paid businessmen (and women) you see boarding the early morning trains to The Big Apple often have very responsible and rewarding jobs. Many are leading figures in their industries and their accomplishments are often great.
The truth is it's all at great personal sacrifice.
No Life of Their Own
These magnates of industry truly do not have a life of their own. Once drawn in to the world of business -- and believe it or not it's a very small world -- their lives are not their own.
In spite of their wealth and their power -- and probably their long-forgotten personal desires to spend time with their families -- they are driven to succeed.
Seldom can they tell their fellow businessmen that they must miss that (always) important convention or stockholders' meeting to take their young sons to a ballgame, take their wives to a movie, or take their daughters to ballet lessons.
They'd love to, but they just can't miss that West Coast meeting because without it they'd be totally lost when they try to negotiate with Japanese tycoons in Tokyo next month.
But, that's all right! While all this is going on those bank accounts are adding zeros -- lots of zeros.
What else can they do with all that money?
Stepping Up the Ladder
Of course, they buy a bigger home, a bigger vacation home, a bigger boat, a bigger car. They choose a more prestigious college for their youngsters.
And, because they have to, not because they want to, they hire tax consultants and investment counselors; they upgrade their insurance and get themselves a good attorney to make sure they keep what they have.
But, when you come down to it, what's it all worth?
A Place To Hang Your Hat
What is the value of a home that's little more than a place to hang your hat? A car you seldom use? A vacation you rarely get to take? Or a place full of children you hardly know?
It probably looks good to many -- from the outside looking in -- but, for me, if I had it, I'd trade it all for a close family and one or two friends.
This is a "My View" column I wrote for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Feb. 26,1994.