money has blown two of my favorite excuses for not doing what
I want to do: not enough time and not enough money!
What hasn't changed? Me! Having money is
wonderful in so many ways, but it hasn't changed who I am
or made me happy (except for short periods of time). It's
great to have first-hand experience that money doesn't make
Inheriting money did not change my life
right away. Outwardly, my life looked like the same old
thing. I bought a house, but didn't live extravagantly.
I value modesty, but it was hard to figure out where modesty
lay when there was no budget to define parameters. Gradually,
I started to realize that I didn't need to spend so much
time comparing prices. I still fly economy, but I've stopped
asking for the lowest fare. I don't look at prices in grocery
stores anymore. With fundraisers, I used to try to figure
out what was the least amount I could get away with giving.
Now when I make a donation, I develop a sliding scale in
my head and try to figure out what multiple of the average
gift would be appropriate for me.
When you have money it can have the effect
of making your inner demons bigger, because you can feed
them money to make them grow. For example, I had personal
issues in my life about creating the fantasy woman. I was
able to fund my girlfriend for a long time with my Pygmalion
dreams, thinking I could help turn her into my ideal woman.
(She claimed she wanted the same goals.) I could not have
done that without money. You can fool yourself for a longer
period of time when you have the money to fund your foolishness.
On the other hand, having money has allowed me to see my
inner dynamics much more clearly because the demons get
to come out and play in a very large format.
What the very poor and the very rich have
in common-what doesn't change-is that money totally dominates
their lives. They have to think about it all the time. I
know, because I've been both rich and poor.
There is a quote that says, "Adversity reveals
genius, prosperity conceals it." My wealth has actually
led me to conceal myself less than I used to. Having money
has prodded and enabled me to take more risks, in terms
of giving of myself and sharing my previously- hidden talents
for a cause I believe in. Without wealth, I would have been
more likely to be struggling now to make ends meet and less
likely to be looking into myself to reach my full potential.
Having money has enabled me to be much bolder
than I used to be. For example, two nonprofits have purchased
buildings while I've been involved with them. I know that
my involvement helped both purchases happen--not because
I funded them, though my family helped in each case. It
was more because of my perspective as a person with money.
I was more accustomed to the scale of the financial decision
than were the others who were involved. Their visions were
limited by their personal financial situations. They couldn't
see that we could pull it off, because they weren't used
to making big financial jumps-and they couldn't imagine
that we could pull together the money in the short timeline
we had available. But I figured there had to be other people
like me who were in a position to give money, and there
were. We raised the money we needed in the time we needed
it. Both nonprofits are flourishing now that they have the
security of owning their own buildings.
I am much more comfortable now asking other
people with wealth to give money to projects, because I
am asking my peers. That gets me over the hurdles of feeling
as if it isn't proper to talk about money. I know how good
it feels to give.
I've been poor and I've been rich. Rich
is better, as Woody Allen says, if only for financial reasons.
When money was scarce, even tiny problems expanded exponentially.
I couldn't afford housing in a decent neighborhood, couldn't
afford insurance, couldn't afford bars on the windows. I
didn't have much to steal, but my apartment was such an
easy target that after all pawnable stuff had been stolen,
burglars couldn't resist dropping in to grab whatever was
in the fridge or the underwear drawer while I was at one
of my three jobs. That apartment was a step up from my previous
digs--a single room featuring a cement floor with a drain
in the middle, so it could be hosed down between occupants.
Since I married a wealthy man, my daily
activities and thoughts no longer involve the getting of
money. Having lots of money changed absolutely everything
except my spiritual self. And who's to say money didn't
change that, too? Some of my most profound spiritual experiences
occurred through events and encounters made possible because
I could afford them, in the unstructured time available
to me simply because I don't have to work for pay.
Perhaps the most profound difference between
being rich and being poor was summed up by something wise
my rich husband said to me when I was worried about a certain
situation: "If money can fix it, it's not a problem."
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