I mentioned yesterday that I was finally getting a chance to read Paul Martin’s book One Man’s Leg. This is a memoir of a man who lost his leg after a car accident and goes on to find himself as a began result running triathlons, skiing, playing hockey and surprisingly giving up a very well paying job to pursue his dream of being a full time athlete. I knew this was his journey but I was surprised by what I have read.
When Paul is considering leaving his job he is confronted by a barrage of opinions from those around him. Some he mentions are:
- You’re crazy!
- You’re just going to throw you college education away?
- Good for you.
- How do you know you are going to like ski racing?
The decision to leave security for an unpredictable future is hard for everyone. Today just doing something that is unique or out of the norm will get many of us the same responses.
But Paul had an amazing ally, his grandmother, who told him she saw he wasn’t happy in his job. Her response to his dilemma was “You don’t want to be my age and say ‘what if’. You better pack your bags.“ This was really all the encouragement he needed. But she went one step further. She shared a letter she had written a friend after a weekend visit she made to this friend’s home. The letter was her definition of what being rich is. I wanted to share that part with you today as I think it says everything.
What I think being rich means
Is having a friend think enough of me to invite me to her home for a weekend. I could have gone to the best hotel in New York and pay —I would have been alone.
Is having her sister greet me at the door and making me feel welcome in her home. Instead of a strange bellhop at the hotel.
Is sitting at her table and eating food prepared especially for me, while Larry, her nephew, entertained us on the piano. Instead of eating alone in a famous restaurant.
Is having a friend think enough of me to take the day off to take me sight-seeing in New York City. Instead of taking a tour of the city alone with no one to talk to.
Is having been poor enough to have to rip up old clothes to be able to dress my family by sewing them up into wearable clothes and learning a trade and developing a skill that has made me able to design clothes to compete with Dior, Bianchini, and the like. And being able to show my appreciation by fashioning a coat especially for Jim. Instead of being rich, going to college and getting a diploma and never having met a friend like you at 322 Waldo street.
Thanks for a wonderful weekend.
If I were to write a letter
If I were to write a letter, or even simply a list to share with those I love the most telling them what I felt rich meant to me it would have to contain the following:
- Finding love in unexpected places.
- Knowing I have people I can count on because they care, not because they believe it’s a responsibility they must carry.
- Having a roof over my head that is safe and secure.
- Having my health when so many suffer with horrible illnesses
- Hearing my son’s tell me they had a wonderful childhood where they always knew where I was and that I was there for them, appreciating the choice I made to earn less to be home with them more.
- Hearing my son tell me I’m his best friend.
- Having a college student and neighbor ask me to attend his wrestling match because he feels we are family. Seriously how many college students befriend a 50 year old woman and her family?
I guess I could go on all night, but I will stop here and ask you now. What does being rich mean to you?