There was a time in my life when I had plenty of money and was alone in a big house -- OK, I didn't have millions, but certainly enough to do some damage. I believe in making money and having an abundance of what you need and want, so just a heads up, this isn't a blog about selling your material possessions and wandering the countryside. This is a blog about living a fantastic life.
While I am currently in the process of rebuilding my wealth and looking forward to the next time I can buy a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, I must say I am the happiest I have ever been. I filed bankruptcy, I nearly lost my home and the concept of a savings account is about as foreign to me as the Chinese language: Wū lòu piān féng lián yè yǔ (when it rains, it pours).
A friend of mine once called me when he was in attendance at a dinner party in the Miami Beach home of a famous rapper who will go unnamed. The home had all the accoutrements of someone who was wealthy -- Dolce Gabbana towels, designer glassware, you name it. It was the year 2009 and the occasion was Thanksgiving. My friend was merely an acquaintance in the same industry as this rap mogul, not a good friend. How disconnected from life do you have to be to live like that?
When you have money and live an empty existence, you can throw extravagant parties to distract you from your deeper self (when no longer empty you can throw extravagant parties to celebrate and connect with humanity). You can justify your actions with elaborate philosophies that rationalize your behavior -- "I am so above the norm, so unique, that I need not follow tradition." I am all for creating your own rituals, celebrations, and unique ways of living your life. But to surround yourself by adoring fans or practical strangers on a family holiday reeks to me of insecurity, of cloaking yourself behind your designer stuff, of avoiding the toughest face in the room... the man (or woman) in the mirror.
King Louis XIV of France, also known as the Sun King, allegedly claimed "L'Etat, c'est moi" (I am the State). During his reign, France was a leading European power, yet he suffered from tremendous physical ailments including diabetes. He was one of the most powerful Kings in the world, however, his legs smelled so badly that members of the court could smell him from down the hall. He indulged himself in excessive food, calories and alcohol that exacerbated his lack of well-being. He had a version of power, but he had no peace.
In the bible, Mark 8:36, it states: "For what shall it profit a woman, if she shall gain the whole world, and lose her own soul?" In the United States we have an obsession with celebrity and wealth. I am here to tell you many of them will die not knowing what the meaning of life is, never having healed their wounds, never going extended periods of time feeling a true enjoyment of life. Just like the rap mogul, just like Louis XIV, they seem all powerful, yet what they possess is dust - the sands of time and money, the grains passing through their fingers, yet in the end all we have is our contribution to the world and our souls.
Like 50 Cent, I intend to "Get Rich or Die Tryin" (and no he isn't the rapper I previously referenced). But what has changed is my definition of wealth. Money is great. I like material things, but I do not want to sit in a big house surrounded by piles of money, all alone (and yes, you can sit alone in a studio apartment without the piles of money too). I've always said, I'd better be surrounded by good friends, only positive people, and have my health, inner peace and time to enjoy them. After all, it might be true that 'yǒu qián néng shǐ guǐ tuī mò' (money talks), but in life all you have is time. And once your time is up, all the money in the world cannot save you.