Wealth


"I am a serial offender against the Law of Attraction."

As I neared graduation from my undergraduate studies, envoys from the Business School started asking me to coffee. Some of these had served as my instructors through my three years of university study. They described the turbo boost that a Master's would add to my upcoming career, and the B-school would finance it all if I agreed to teach classes while I studied. The two year commitment would guarantee me sixty or more hour weeks. By then, I was holding down a full time job and a little more than a full load of classes, burning myself out trying to rid myself of the damnable anvil of schoolwork. I had a family by then, a newborn son and a wife with clear and undeflectable intentions of of bearing a second child shortly thereafter. We'd just been displaced from our rental by a landlord who chose to raise the rent monthly to keep up with the fifteen plus percent annual inflation rate. We'd borrowed from family to buy our first house, a place that we didn't know would quickly lose twenty percent of its value, in the hopes of at least stabilizing housing costs. My job paid for my books and tuition as an employee benefit, but I had to work full time to collect the benefit. My life already seemed plenty turbo-charged at that moment.

I declined the opportunity to pursue my MBA, reasoning that my time spent with my newborns would not be deferrable until any later date. I simply didn't want an MBA enough to sacrifice what I was already barely holding onto.
I held higher responsibilities than turbo-charging my career. That starter home cost us a whole lot more than it ever returned. My investment strategy was primarily to avoid investment strategies, a plan eased by the fact that I hardly ever made enough to pay the monthly expenses, anyway. I was nonetheless building wealth, but not the sort of wealth any of my B-school professors might have recognized. I believe that most beliefs about wealth amount to myths bothered upon people who have little understanding of what wealth entails. The accumulation of money, gold, stocks, and bonds might represent the very most superficial metaphor of wealth, and not anything like the purpose, meaning, or true significance of it. Wealth, to my mind, doesn't jingle in anyone's pocket. The poorest people I've ever met were the ones who flouted their superficial accumulations. The richest hardly ever had two plugged nickels to rub together.

I'm not speaking as one denied superficial wealth but as one blessed with the genuine article. We each make our choices. For most, superficial wealth simply isn't in the cards. Ever. And they know that. Some struggle anyway, sucker to a succession of Get Rich schemes intended to entice what little gelt they might have accumulated but which was obviously not yet enough. It often ended up being more than they ended up with. Exhausted, some stumble forward into a deeper appreciation of the choices they made and the ones that they didn't, and from there, a sort of acceptance that simply subverts all the Get Richer schemers. A kind of contentment reigns in the absence of desire. Once the need for ever more disappears, plenty seems to appear. An aspiration could never be a true target, let alone a legacy. Those MBA recruiters seemed focused upon juicing my aspiration without mentioning that I would need to concoct some much more difficult to define target and an impossible-seeming legacy for the motive to cause any effect. Fortunately, mine found me.

I measure my wealth by the non-commercial relationships I enjoy. I am presently a songwriter without an album to his credit, a writer without a publisher, and a consultant without paying clients, but also the patriarch of a network of family and of friends-who-sure-seem-like-family-to-me. I understand that I was never engaged in an either/or sort of choice or a zero-sum contest. I accepted the wealths I seemed able to hold. Nothing but my persistent inability to attract that other sort of wealth ever prevented me from becoming a tycoon. I tycooned in something other than real estate. I cornered the market I found myself inhabiting without even recognizing it as a marketplace. Money never bought me much but I was never poor. I traded in stuff that money couldn't buy, stuff providing a fine eventual return.

I am a serial offender against the Law of Attraction. The Muse reflects that had I hit it big in the music business, the effect probably would have killed me. Success seems self-destructive to people like me, so I sing to myself and a few fine friends, I write for my community without reaching further beyond, and I consult with those who ask me to, money rarely part of the deal. I suppose that I fear conventional wealth and the complacence it seems to attract. I have no clue how I'll do as I age myself out of this place. I hardly care, for I hold what no portfolio could even aspire to contain. For now. The curious paradox of accumulation seems to center around the fact that we hold onto little here. Days slip through our fingers, even when journaled for later reference. A concatenation of impressions seem to remain, though no strongbox could contain them. When I sit down to scribble, I am creating my legacy and coming ever closer to my target. When I expire, no inheritance tax will come due. My kids will gain title to a few hundred books they'll never read, boxes of unpublished poetry and prose, a portfolio of never-recorded tunes, and a marvelous old guitar. Wealth beyond measure.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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