A millionaire whose friends are all billionaires will feel broke.
I was pretty close to my father’s driver as a kid, and we talked a lot.
He would often tell me stories of people I didn’t know who he called “big men.” He’d talk about the cars they drove, and how they bought everyone drinks, and how they lived in nice houses.
Then I grew up…
And I was a medical doctor, driving out from work one weekend. As I approached the hospital gate, the security guys asked their usual, “Anything for us, sir?”
I grinned. “Ah, me sef just dey manage o!”
They replied, “Ah, you na oga o!”
And that’s when it hit me.
In their eyes, I was the big man of the stories of my father’s driver.
All those men he used to tell me about—I was them. I didn’t feel wealthy, but that’s how they saw me.
It’s surprising how we’re far more keenly aware of the wealth of others.
It reminded me of my first job out of med school. I worked on the Island, stayed with my uncle.
I remember feeling like every fifth car was a brand new Toyota Camry, & wondering when I’d be able to afford one. I felt so broke then.
Until the weekend I got back from my parents’.
My parents lived on the Mainland, and the weekend itself was normal. Nothing special. It was when I got back I caught it.
I hadn’t seen a single new Camry. Or any other new car for that matter.
Oh—and I also hadn’t felt broke once the entire weekend…
That was the first time I’d learned that lesson:
“Wealth” is something “others” have.
But maybe it’s worth stepping back from ourselves from time to time, and considering how wealthier we are than we feel.
There’s a reason the Bible says envy is at the root of all labour.
“Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:4 ESV)