if i were a rich (wo)man

“If I were a rich man, ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.” 

~Fiddler on the Roof~

 

Earlier this week while scheduling my Tivo line-up of Life-Wasting Programs, I stumbled upon a documentary about people who’d won big cabbage in the lottery.  And folks, we are talking a mighty chunky piece of slaw.

COLOR ME VERY MUCH INTRIGUED.

However.  The more I watched, well dadgum, the sadder I got.  By the time the program was over, I was so dispirited I swore off gambling of any kind.  Because ya’ll know, who in their wildest dreams, wants to win lots of money and never have worry about bills again?

GOLLY GOSH, CERTAINLY NOT ME.

But.  According to the People With More Money Than They Knew What To Do With, the big win literally ruined their lives.  Close relationships with friends and family were often destroyed by jealousy.

Friends who were interviewed, across the board, said they now found a lack of any connection with the person who was catapulted into a different financial stratosphere. They felt, without reservation, that their friend could no longer relate to them.  And vice versa.

Some winners were struck by the loss of meaningful purpose in their lives lacking the need to work for anything.

One man who won the lottery decades earlier discovered that his brother had hired a hit man to knock him off for the inheritance.

SOBERING.

I began to wonder if, in our materialistic-centered society, having a financially secure future was apparently such a downer, what does make our daily lives significantly richer?  What fills our tanks?

I count myself as very blessed.  In the big scheme of life, my tank is full and overflowing.  I am not rich. I do not have a model’s physique.

I shall pause momentarily for a bit of wistful sighing. 

However. I have children whom I love with every molecule of my being. I have a good marriage, a humble home, and a job I love (most of the time).  I cherish my awfully brilliant friends who make me laugh, share my joys and divide my sorrows. And in spite of my love affair with McDonalds and a lifelong adversity to regular, consistent exercise, I am healthy.  I have enough.

AND MORE.

And I realize what really makes me smile, what fills my heart to swelling are not the Big Life Events, but rather the simple daily gestures of kindness I’ve received.

The Saturday mornings when I’ve awakened to find a cup of Tim Hortons the Husband picked up for me before he went golfing.

An unexpected full tank of gas and a clean van.  Although it’s yet to be determined if the Husband did that out of love or annoyance as I frequently drive on ‘empty’ in a less-than-sparkling vehicle.

The period of time where the Husband was in the middle of an extended job search and a 70-plus year old family friend wrote to me every few weeks to make sure I wasn’t going to strap on my cement shoes and wade into the deep end of the pool. 

We’re talking handwritten letters on homemade stationery. 

HOW CAN YOU NOT CALL THAT WAY SPECIAL?

And. On two separate occasions, this man of relatively meager means, included a check for $25 in his letter notated ‘A Gift From God’. It sure felt like it.

An email or text from a friend just to say I’m thinking about you.  Or I love you. Or I’m glad you’re my friend. Or what do you think of X, Y, and Z?

Discovering an unexpected little package or card tucked into the mailbox.

The clever note my 10-year old taped to our bedroom door.

Opening a book I received as a gift several years prior and re-reading the handwritten inscription from a precious friend.

On a side note, in this day and age of electronic everything to receive a solid piece of someone that’s lovingly written is enormously special to me.

I’M FEELING RATHER VERKLEMPT.

And.

Just so ya’ll don’t think I’m as thick as a slab of beef, of course I would love to win the lottery.  However.  If in the process, I would lose the wonder and gratitude for the smaller things in my life, than I haven’t really won anything at all.

you say aye-mish, I say ahh-mish

We are not put on this earth to see through one another,
but to see one another through.
~Amish Quote~ 


Spent some time this weekend in Indiana’s Amish country.  Because y’all know, I party like a rock star. 

That’s right.  Say it. 
Uh huh.

So. 

I’ve been a bit stressed lately.  Moving too fast, getting tangled up in triteness, dodging life’s bullets, stepping on my own air hose.  Lord knows, I needed to just stop.  And breathe.  And eat Amish cookies.

For anyone who’s not had the uniquely joyful experience of peering into the Amish community firsthand, I would recommend you add it to your Bucket List. 

Get a pencil. I’ll wait while you write it down.  A-M-I-S-H.  Ready?

Okay. 

So to shake off All Things Troublesome and get re-focused, I needed to disconnect. If only for a brief time.  And there are few Americans more disconnected from modern society, yet totally connected with their own community, than the Amish.  I drive 120 miles west and enter a world that’s 100 years past.

Well dadgum, will you look at that?

Inhale, exhale … I’m breathing again.

I don’t know if part of the reason I find the Amish way of life so fascinating is that I’m a ginormous history freak.  And quite frankly, the Amish are living history. 

Or.  It may be the fact they make some incredible kettle corn. 

I’ll admit, it’s a toss-up.

But the fact remains that when I’m driving down rural roads, seeing their exquisitely manicured farms and watching these people touch the earth, I slow down. 

And I think. 

A lot. 

I witness their bountiful, leafy vegetable gardens intertwined with vibrantly colorful flowers and see something of value, something tangible for their time and effort.  I see purpose and meaning and what must be a sense of satisfaction, if not pride, for a job well done.

When I catch a glimpse of  groups of children riding bikes barefoot together down quiet lanes, I see significance that they’re connecting with one another in real time.  Not via the Internet.

Passing one farm I saw at least twenty buggies, horses tethered to hitching posts, men working beside one another gathering up a crop.  Leaning against the fence were at least a dozen bikes of the children running around the farm and playing on the swing set, while the women set a picnic table for lunch.

Everywhere I see community. I see a belief system in action. 

And I see connectivity to one another.

And it hits me like a brick. 

Perhaps, it’s not necessarily that I need to disconnect,
but maybe I’m simply connected to the wrong things.

Now.  I’m quite sure life on an Amish farm is not for the faint hearted and I’m certainly not suggesting I want to be one with the Amish.  I’ll hazard to guess that making a decision to go to town and spending gawd-knows-how-much time hitching up the horse and buggy to get there is not something they meditate on lightly. 

Or the clothes I saw hanging on the clothesline of every single farm I passed (side note:  Friday must be The Official Day for Laundry) made me feel a slight bit foolish when I recalled just how put out I can be about having to toss clothes into my white contraption and spin the dial. 

Oooh poor me and Mr. Kenmore.

However.  It struck me that the things they did and the time they spent doing them had greater meaning.   For as commonplace as their chores were, nothing felt common.  The point seems to be not the completion of the task, but the doing of it.

I did have a moment, however, watching a flatbed wagon of young Amish couples heading in my direction, where I wondered how harmful the total disconnect was to the young people.  Were they at a disadvantage without higher education, without the benefit of the Internet or television where they could see the larger picture of the world as a whole?  Or did the assurance of a lifelong place in their community negate their desire to know more or live in an expanded society where life can be immensely more superficial?

All in all, the whole experience left me wondering how do I find balance between their lifestyle and mine?  How do I consistently create a life of real connections, moments of value, and the ability to shrug off the worries that won’t matter much even six months from now?  

I’m going to need another homemade oatmeal raisin cookie to ponder the matter.