HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

June 18, 2007

Life is not a contest; it is an experience

It seems to be human tendency to create hierarchies surrounding the important factors in life. There are standards created that structure, mentally, how things should operate.

This happens in the “real world” when it comes to the measure of success.

It has struck me to be very interesting lately that with wealth comes the title of elite.

This summer, I am wearing many hats, and am somehow managing three jobs – not an easy task, but possible nonetheless.

One of the hats I wear involves serving at a country club snack bar, by the pool, where I wait on an “elite” group of people. It costs a pretty penny to schmooze it up with these fellas.

I’ve spent a lot of time observing these people – examining their lifestyles, and wondering why my manager holds them up on a pedestal just because of their affluence, often- times causing me to think I could be “lesser” than these people, even if 90 percent of the “elite” I serve are under the age of 12.

I don’t think my manager is alone in her thinking. Much of our culture does the same thing – creates this totem pole of greatness – putting the rich at the top and the poor dug deep into the ground.

Our culture’s mentality is often centered on the dollar sign, allowing it to dominate the way it views the infrastructure of society as a whole.

If you think about every ad we are bombarded with daily, whether on TV, the radio, and now the Internet, the ads try to make it seem like the product will help the “average Joe,” but in reality, the advertiser is marketing to a wealthier crowd, because in the end, all they care about is making a profit.

This is where these mental fallacies are created, the rich can have and the poor can wish.

What is baffling to me is that so many people allow this false reality to influence their lifestyles.

Why does a Coach purse make you better than someone with a clearance rack purchase?

How come celebrities are so praised and acknowledged and obsessed over when there are so many anonymous people doing greater things with their lives than owning many homes?

How can two people from two different neighborhoods, both with hearts pumping blood through their veins, be put on opposite ends of the spectrum just because of their financial status? One at the top, and the other equivalent to nothing?

The rich are considered elite, but the least admirable, and the poor are the kindest, but never envied.

We are all human. There is no vertical scale of highest to lowest, elite to poor. Money is a measurement of quantity, not quality of life. A rich man feels just as much as a poor man – no one is better than the other.

Life’s richness is measured by the experiences you have. It is in those experiences that you are allowed to advance, but according to your own terms. If there needed to be a scale measuring life, it would be horizontal, allowing you to add as you choose.

The hierarchy of our society is going to continue to exist on a larger scale, because historically, that’s how it has operated, around finances.

However, you can change your mind, and dissolve the idea that someone can be better than you or lesser than you.

Life is not a contest; it is an experience.