CONVERSATIONS

WORLD WEAL(TH)

 

†††† MY SISTER WROTE [Square brackets contain information added †††††††

††††† for clarification or, when empty, deleted to protect her privacy]:

 

"Strange.I never felt that we had a lot of money.Our place on [] was purchased with money from the sale of the [] Street house, I believe.And while Dad was making good money by the [] days, you must remember that he was supporting 2 households - ours and his apt in [†† ].It would have been a lot cheaper for us to have moved to [†† ] but Mom was adamant that she (and us) were staying put.Lucky for us, actually.I know that from time to time Mom got a new Buick but really, I can't think of much of anything that we had that was considered "rich".Xmas presents were usually clothing and clothes were only purchased otherwise once a year for school.Other than Sissy, I didn't have any particular "rich" things that I remember.I really didn't need them either.I know friends of mine were living in other environments and other conditions - some less and some better off.It really didn't matter to me and as far as I could see, anyone in our family whether money was the criteria."

 

[Sissy was my sisterís horse.We also had a bocce court, a tennis court, a walnut orchard, a stable, a corral, a chicken coop, a vegetable garden, a stonework BBQ large enough to accommodate a small crowd, and a cottage with two-door garage, three bedrooms, bath and kitchen. One of the bed rooms became a photo lab for my high school photography business.A creek ran along the perimeter of our property, with a foot bridge to reach the road and our mailbox on the other side.We had a 200 gallon storage tank for gasoline to fuel momís Buicks and our other vehicles.]

 

††† I WROTE:

 

At the time, I was only vaguely aware that we were rich.Does a fish know there is air?We took as normal what was normal for us, not questioning much beyond all that we knew.Wealth is relative.††† If everyone you know rides a Palomino, then your Palomino does not denote wealth. If you have neighbors who live in houses, then having a house doesn't make you feel rich.

 

Anything beyond food and shelter is where wealth begins, and it accumulates as a result of civilization.We don't often think about how much time and effort our forebears invested to achieve hot and cold running water, for instance.Before dams and irrigation canals, water was what fell out of the sky and flowed in rivers.Before fire was tamed, hot water was what came out of volcanic vents.Before metal was smelted, a process that requires a pretty hot fire, there were no pipes.We are all wealthy but don't take thought of it.

 

At the time, though, I felt twinges ofinferiority.At [] there were some boys who haughtily dismissed our dad's wealth as "new" money.He had earned rather than inherited it.And at that time the relative expense of being fed, boarded and educated at a private school only entered my thoughts when it was somewhat ruefully mentioned by our parents.And when I got to [] High, having a '52 Chevy coupe was not much by comparison to many of the cars driven by other students.The Chevy was grey, small, not very loud or flashy, and not very powerful.

 

These days it is clear to me that mom's Buicks, your horse, and my car spelled wealth.And before we moved to the countryside with horse, stable, etc., our Victorian mansion on [] Street located in town was certainly no shanty.

 

To see air, you have to get out of the water.††

 

For me, this happened when the Air Force sent me first to Japan, then to the Philippines.I went mentally numb when I saw how ordinary people lived there, so shocked that I couldn't really think about it or feel it.When I became "the hippie gardener," as some people called me after I left [] Systems, I soon encountered, up close and personal, drifters and grifters who made me aware that my survival depended upon understanding and empathizing with how "the other half" lives.These are the people, and that is the life, we were trained to blot out of our consciousness.And that is when I began to see how wealthy our childhood had been.

 

So far I have survived, making a living outside of corporate "culture.Ē My orientation to life in general has radically changed.We have discussed the deplorable state of civilization. My present aim is to understand how we got ourselves into this mess, and to find a way out of it.Money and things are not wealth.What we enjoyed was deliberately distracting, designed to make us pawns of those who would hock civilization for gold in their pockets.

 

Civilization is our wealth.