The distance of your life is the distance of your love.
Oh Man, I don’t want to look back on these times of human pain and suffering and read a blog of mine where I am whining about shitty bottle service, buying sports cars to get out of a personal funk, high-end credit card roulette, or other dumb-shit, insensitive crap like that. I remember a few decades back “sharing” with this old, tough, now sober, lower-eastside bar-war survivor about how listless and uninspired I was feeling at the time and luckily for me he had the balls and wisdom to firmly point out that “maybe that’s how you should feel when you don’t make much of a difference in anyone else’s life except your own.” So true !--That was dead on.
I don’t know why but I’m drawn to the hard truth. It inspires me in the literal sense of breathing life into that which is lifeless. I remember a few decades ago when I advanced the seemingly obvious to me, but radical to most, theory that people on average get waaaaay more respect than they deserve, not less. There’s a view heard often today of “I’m not getting enough respect.” Yet you rarely hear someone offer up the notion that they are getting too much respect, which we all easily know in the other person's case at least is certainly true. The rare time someone might advance the simple notion of being over-valued they are often expecting to be respected for having said so.
My take on the bible and the notion of it being “easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than a rich man into heaven” is simply that wealth creates an added obstacle to empathy, compassion and the experience of feeling love toward one’s non generic brother. If you don’t develop and practice compassion for others you will never truly feel it for yourself. And as my wise old friend would add, “Why should you?” That’s why rich kids kill themselves a such a disproportionately high level— they’ve lost empathy for themselves as they are repeatedly scolded that they have no right to feel crappy about anything, And this, of course, is both deeply untrue and extremely isolating.
I have as much compassion for wealthy individuals losing their love of life as I do for the poor. The lack of respect I have is for the foolish, ineffective, and isolating strategy of fearfully running from this natural feeling by buying expensive things. It won’t work. It never has. I can at least share with you the well known psycological reality that buying “experiences” is way more effective than buying “things.” There are a large number of studies supporting this fact. Buying more things just eventually increases the burden and isolation and feeling of falseness.
So if you find yourself stuck in low connection and high apathy then at least skip the fancy high-end objects and buy yourself a trip. The outer movement will feel good to the inner stagnation and it’s easier to entertain foreign thoughts in foreign place. My 1/50th of a dollar.
If you have ever had your picture taken while in grade school then you probably added to an old friend of mine’s vast family fortune. One day in our teens a friend and I were hanging out with said heiress in her giant NYC loft and, hung over as weekend usual, the two of us left to pick up some takeout we had ordered. We returned empty-handed as I had no cash from the night before and his bank account was, as usual, empty. We explained this simple truth to our 19 year old friend.
“How can you not have any money in the bank?” she asked. “That’s not good money management.” She gave us a hundred from the many and we left and returned with the food. As we were eating she told us we could pay her back Monday. We told her that this was not possible as I was returning to Princeton that night and our other friend had no money in his bank account.
‘Well, put money in your account on Monday”, she replied.
We were approaching the exhilaration of the sharing of different consciousnesses.
My friend was much more embarrassed about the reality of our economic realities and so while he hemmed and hawed I told her that there was no money in his account and wouldn’t be until he worked, made money and put it in there. She was also a part-time laborer at the moment as an intern at Gucci, used to not being able to live off her meager wages and so she offered an alternative solution.
“Why don’t you just transfer money out of the big account into the little account. Then you’ll have money. How easy is that?” She smiled at her helpful solution.
That finally cracked us up. There was no “big account” we told her. And there was hardly any little account either.
She was stunned.
“How can you live like that?” she asked “Isn’t that scary?”
You could see the reality of the lives of others begin sinking in with her. This was a life-changing breakthrough for her and she insisted on giving both of us some walking money. She had never before realized the life even some of her best friends were leading. As we were leaving she made us promise that if we ever “got ourselves into that kind of situation again” we would let her know. We thanked her and told her we were just suffering a momentary lack of funds and that everything would be okay.
Back then I didn’t have the balls or wisdom to share with her that we were often, if not always, “stuck in that type of situation” and still we were both way better off then billions of other humans all over the world.
Thanks for reading.
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