After a few years of saving money, I quit my job and was finally ready to embark on my open-ended spiritual journey. My bank account read $25,000. I felt extraordinarily wealthy. Basically everything I had envisioned doing was possible with that kind of money.
Nearly four years later, I’m working not for money but for room & board on a vegetable farm in Northern California; and, I’m still living off that initial 25 grand.
A few days ago, while in the middle of the work day, I was pulling weeds from the farm field when I looked up and saw a red tail hawk swooping overhead. I smiled, standing still as ever, and it suddenly struck me that I had never been more wealthy; ever since returning to America five months earlier, I had a very steady feeling of contentment with my life situation, my opportunities, my possessions and, even more so, my lack of all of those.
For most people, wealth means having lots of cash, possessions or choices. For me, wealth means not craving more than I have.
I spent many years wanting exotic travels, spiritual insights, more REI goods, big bags of bulks foods from the grocery store, a great romantic partner, and on and on. In retrospect, I realize the wanting of those things I didn’t have prevented me from deeply appreciating what I did have.
It’s hard to appreciate a red tailed hawk when your thoughts are in the future. It’s hard to appreciate a farm fresh dinner when you’re craving a pizza and a beer. It’s hard to be content when you’re looking for something to complete you.
It’s not that I suddenly dislike those previously desired things. If they happen—great. If they don’t happen—equally great. This is more than just talk. It’s something I feel deep inside. It’s what lets me say that even when my back is sore, my bank account is low and my future is uncertain, still, that peace is with me.
Some people have considerably more than $25,000 and still want way more than what they have. It never ends. If you truly want to be wealthy, a good place to start is to notice every time you feel like something in your life is lacking. Study that mental-emotional state. What if in the simple act of noticing it, you could “step back” and become okay with that sense-of-lack?
Perhaps, in that moment, you will feel as wealthy as you ever have.