Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Money can't buy happiness

I was talking on the ham radio this morning to an old timer who grew up in Chicago. He was telling me how his father worked as a furniture buyer for a chain of large department stores and then became a stockbroker when he lost his job during the depression. It made me think about my own childhood.
My father worked as a car painter for a Chevrolet-Buick dealership. He probably didn’t make as much money as a furniture buyer or a stockbroker, but as a child growing up, I never had to do without anything important. I had my baseball bat and glove and my little red wagon. One of my uncles gave me a bicycle. We weren’t “dirt poor,” but I’m not sure if we qualified for “middle class.”
I married a woman that was also raised without a lot of available money. As we raised a family, we set out to try to provide for our children, but with four children, it was very tough. I guess I might have discovered why I was an only child! To this day, I have always felt bad that we were unable to give our children a car for high school graduation, nor could we provide them with a college education. Thinking back, I sincerely hope that they had everything important, as I did, but I’m not sure that I did as good a job as my own dad when it comes to this.
Thinking back on my childhood, I realize now that my experience was a lesson that money can’t buy. Without knowing, I learned many good things, such as “money isn’t everything,” and “the best things in life are free” and all of those other sayings that people without money toss around. All my life, I have wanted “things” and I felt bad when I could not have them. I really did OK and had everything I need, but I didn’t realize that I was greedy and materialistic. Once I realized this, I was able to change my ways. Today I realize that there are not many things in life that I really need, and if I am ever able to get something nice that I have been longing for, the feeling of accomplishment and reward is much greater than ever before.
As silly as it might sound, I am now glad that I was not spoiled and pampered as a child because it taught me many lessons. It just took me a lifetime to realize what these lessons were, and now that I finally do understand, I am thankful. Now there is but one thing I wish, and that is to hear that my children were lucky enough to also be instilled with this wisdom. Every generation always hopes to provide for their own children better than they themselves were brought up, but I’m not aware that this happens in many cases, so perhaps we are going about this the wrong way. Perhaps we should have been saying “I hope to raise my children the way that I was raised – to realize that there is more to live than material possessions, and that our efforts should be not to acquire wealth, but to acquire wisdom, humility and a caring disposition toward mankind.

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