written by: Mark Janssen
by: Mark Janssen

When we are young we experience different forms of wealth. There is the wealth of having just one person in the world love us. Wealth covers us like rain when we have the

opportunities of education. Having a home, food and clothing are all forms of wealth that we do not begin to recognize in youth.

The progression from childhood to youth to teenager leaves us wide open to an unending array of questions. Why does my classmate have more than me? More toys, more clothes, a car, parents who never set limits?

With time these questions turn out to be the wrong ones or they are never answered. Some of the kids with all the toys were always expecting more, bigger, better. There were no limits. Some of the kids who had less and always wanted more were left in precisely the same position of wanting more.

All wealth was material.

It's very difficult to live in a world with an endless display of conspicuous wealth thrown at us. The price for living within our means feels like a high price to pay.

But when do we let ourselves go? When do we let in all the thoughts and emotions which feel so very wrong but turn out to be so very right?

The pain of change can be inexorably slow. As our insides are being changed by listening to others—by listening to that inner voice which we so do not want to hear—we are becoming our true selves. Listening to our angels, sometimes even the awareness that we are listening to the Creator, makes us into the adult we are supposed to be.

This is not something we are necessarily taught is a good thing. As children we don't hear often enough that we will grow into ourselves. It can be that the closest we ever come to that is hearing our parents tell us that they can hardly wait until we grow up. Growing up has changed. Our parents or grandparents may have worked in the same line of business as their parents, but it seems as though it was easier.

So we think.

The fact is that there were fewer choices in how we could live our lives. The sons of farmers became farmers because there weren't a lot of other possibilities. The daughters of farmers married other farmers. There were not a lot of options. Childhood and all of its possibilities has become close to overwhelming in the last century. There are too many choices. There are too many possibilities.

Not all of them are good.

There are drugs and booze and parties and never really being able to drop the chains we cling to so tightly. We cling to making bad decisions or none at all because we don't honestly know what to do for ourselves.

Living our lives to the point where we can tell our minds to shut up and our hearts to open up is rarely easy. For all of the toys in the world, letting go of what ties us to our misperceptions of how we are supposed to live may be the hardest thing we ever do.

Life is not about striving to live in the mansion on the hill. Life is about opening the doors and windows on our hearts and souls. It's setting ourselves free from worldly misperceptions about wealth. It's gaining the true wealth of knowing ourselves.

The best form of wealth is to get back to the wealth we knew as children. The love of even one person is immeasurable wealth. There is the wealth of constantly working to know more about ourselves as we are, of striving to become more ourselves. We do not have to go to a formal school for these things. To know more about ourselves is to worry less about what others think of us. It is to think less about what we suppose we are to think of others.

It is to be.

For anyone who thinks they need a world of things, let me tell you a story.

One day my father packed us in the car and drove us through the manorial compound of one of America's wealthy families. My mother took one look at the forbidding mansion on the hill above the employees' apartments and asked, "Can you imagine the heating bill for that place?"

Physical wealth is something to be kept under the gimlet eye of scrutiny.

written by: Mark Janssen

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