observations on life

Richness

I can remember that when I was a kid, these were some of the things that, to me, were signs that someone was rich:  if they could afford to go skiing; if they could afford girl scout uniforms; if they went on vacations; having a horse; living in a house with more than two bedrooms; buying new cars instead of used ones; a pool table; train sets; if they went out to eat.  These are just some of the things.  I didn’t know anyone who played tennis, for instance, or who owned a lot of land, or went to private school (except Catholics, but that’s not the kind of “private school” I’m talking about).  In fact I didn’t meet anyone who went to private school until I was 40 years old — one of my graduate school classmates sent her kids to a private school.

When I was a young girl, one of my best friends lived across the street from us.  Her family was Catholic and there were nine children.  They lived in half of a duplex.  The parents and youngest child had one (tiny) bedroom, the two girls shared another tiny bedroom, and the other 6 boys shared another, larger room.  The living room was about 8 x10, the kitchen the same, and there was one bathroom.  Their kids went to public school.  They did not consider themselves to be poverty-stricken.    They didn’t consider themselves to be rich, either, but there was no complaining about their lot in life.  (That the Catholic church forces people to live in poverty by denying them birth control is a subject for another blog.)

The point, I guess, is that being rich or poor is relative to one’s own position.  I hear lots of people say “We didn’t have anything, but I never thought we were poor.”  And I remember hearing others say “We had everything we wanted but I wouldn’t say we were rich.”  If having everything you want isn’t being rich, what is?

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