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On the most important thing

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A dear friend recently contacted me after a few years of disconnection, to ask how things were going. I replied that things were going alright with the exception of something that was of real consequences and importance, but did not state what it was. Worried, he followed up. What was it? How was my health? Was my family alright? I replied that those were not the cases and that the sole issue was financial. I am the healthiest clochard on Earth, I wrote. He closed the exchange by laughing at it, reminding me that money was the least important thing in the world.
I stopped the exchange there because my memory might be selective but it is sharp regarding the bad times. You see, during the years 1999 through 2002, my friend was not doing well financially. He technically reached bankruptcy and I remember him in those days because I gave him some moral support (and picked up a few tabs at bars and restaurants). My friend had to be medicated by a Doctor to be able to function, and he was in a very depressive state. His family et al were doing fine and were healthy and there was really nothing at fault in his life.
Except for that little detail called money. And he was going medically insane over his lack of it.
It got me thinking about how people so casually state that money is irrelevant, of no importance. And my biased view is that those that claim so are usually very well off. They do not think about money in the same way that a person hiking a national park will not think of air. But a diver with only 500 PSI in his tank, trapped in an underwater cave, will certainly think of it.
The issue is that a lot of people go by the cliché that money is not important. The important things in life are those that really matter, making the conclusion tautological. The important things are a combination of Family, Health and Love. You have those, you are made. So let’s look at that glorious trio of fortunes.
Your family. Sure, most of us have wonderful families, people that depend on us and that support us in return. The relationships are symbiotic and nourishing. But that is not universal and it is not assured. Because you did not chose your family. If there was something in this world that was pure, plain dumb luck, it was your family. You were born into it and there were no choices. So those that are fortunate can claim so, but must admit the element of luck.
What is not luck is how money affects your relationship with your family. What good is money for if you have a nice family? For starters, you can care for them. For your children, a proper house, proper food, medical care, education. The frequent gift or gesture that also says “I love you”. For your parents and siblings, support and assistance. The larger your wealth, the more you can spread that love. For those that are separated by more than a few miles, money can be very helpful covering that distance. Airline tickets do not come cheap.
How about health? Well, although not completely random, health also comes with some element of luck. Simply stated, some people are born healthier than others. And if you do not have buckets of health, what good is money for?
For starters, medicines. Proper medical assistance. Proper food and proper shelter, so you can protect yourself. No big surprise in that wealthier countries have better health indices. With more and more expensive treatments, money comes very much in play regarding the health of a population. Go try and pay a cancer treatment all by yourself, especially if you are bound to a chair or bed. Money might come handy.
Which leads to Love. Pure, magical, special Love. If there is something that is truly important in life, it is Love.
Only that it is also a very random event. It is luck that allows you to find love. At school, at work, at the gym, somewhere. Finding that special other is so lucky.
So what does money have to do with Love? Well, it comes handy to pay for that first cup of coffee, that invitation to the movies. It comes handy to dress a little nicer, go to that gym to keep yourself looking well, the healthy thing mentioned above (try dating when you are sick) and other little details that are conducive to find love. It is useful for that little “let’s get to know each other better” vacation.
Yes, sure, money is of no relevance whatsoever. Imagine no possessions and all you need is love. But the jerk that said so lived in The Dakota. You have to remember that.
My friend was not being mean or hurtful. He meant the best and I know that. But the frequent disparaging of the importance of money is something completely out of touch with the modern reality of life. In Spanish, one frequent way to explain that one is penniless is to say “I am clean”. Clean? Well, it comes from the other frequent colloquial statement about money being “dirty”. Money being “Filth”. Your Filthy Money, Dirty Money, Stinking Money. When you have none, you are therefore clean. Those with lots of “dirt” usually have nice showers and clean clothes to put on, while those that are clean usually live in squalor.
The equation is backwards, actually. All those immaterial items are important, but there is always a level of non-control over them. You cannot set yourself to find a nice family, be perfectly healthy, and although you can search for love, if you find it it will be luck.
Money is a different story. Money, not love, is what makes the world go round. In the end, it is the most important thing in the world.
And if you don’t agree, get rid of yours. Let me know how that strong pang in your chest felt the moment you gave all of it away. We can exchange notes.

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Updated 04-23-2019 at 11:46 AM by ponchi101



  1. GlennHarman's Avatar
    Ponchi.......well-written and well-thought out, as always. I enjoyed reading this!!! GH