Rich Man Poor Man

Is it O.K. to want to live a luxurious life?

I recently spent two days at the Four Seasons at a client’s expense.  At the Four Seasons, the rooms and common areas are beautiful. The staff attends to you regularly and warmly without being intrusive. Every time I left the hotel a limo was waiting for me.  The meals were excellent. 

This lifestyle draws me like the proverbial moth to the flame.  Yet at the same time it makes me uncomfortable.  Why do I get such strong, conflicting emotional reactions? 

I have spent the past several days trying to understand.

First of all, recognize that this set up was not done for me. This company had its board of directors in for meetings, one of which I attended. The first class treatment was for them. The nature of my work brings me into daily contact with many wealthy business people ranging from multimillionaires to the occasional billionaire. These people can do or buy pretty much as they please at any time it suits them.  I envy this ability. (BTW. There is rich and there is super rich. The NASDAQ just opened a trading market for private companies that do not want to be subject to the regulations required to be listed on the regular NASDAQ exchange or the NYSE. Want to buy shares in those companies. Minimum requirement to play: $100 million in assets.)

Second, I lead a comfortable but not extravagant lifestyle.  I do not worry about how to pay the mortgage but I have to (or at least I do) think about what we are going to spend and what that means we cannot spend in the near future. I do not stay at a Four Seasons when I am picking up the tab. Also, I grew up at the low end of middle class life with less than I have now. 

Over the years I developed a self image of being egalitarian, a populist as it were. I came to admire that self image. (Too narcissistic?) I think about how money spent on the excesses of the wealthy would be better spent on the needs of the poor.  

Having said all that, I would not mind at all having enough money to live well and no longer work. I want to travel the world and stay at nice places while doing it. I do not like mediocre hotel rooms even though I am generally averse to paying for better given our current finances.  I like nice clothes though I could live in blue jeans and tee shirts. (I wore my Armani jacket for the first time at these meetings. I felt special having it.)

For now, contemplating whether or not I could get comfortable being one of the truly wealthy is purely an academic exercise.  One with wealth can always give it to the needy.

After all this introspection, I possess no greater understanding of these conflicting emotions than when I began.  However, being able to write about how I feel helps to exorcise the demons at least a bit.

 P.S. I loved the 1970’s mini series Rich Man, Poor Man.  Peter Strauss, a young Nick Nolte and the extremely sexy Susan Blakely starred. What ever happened to her?

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About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

2 Responses to Rich Man Poor Man

  1. Frank says:

    Man, I’m with you. I fantasize the wealthy lifestyle now and then. I bought a Powerball ticket for the game that had a $210 million payout last night (I forgot to look at the numbers) and wondered how I would fare; what I would do.

    But blue jeans and tee shirts fit me just fine…although I do like the idea of an Armani jacket. Ah, to have not a financial worry in the world…that would be tremendous…then again, just having no worries, that would be even better. I read that people in Cosat Rica, many of whom live in huts, are much happier than millionaires in the U.S. It’s because they know what makes them happy.

  2. 48facets says:

    Would the Costa Ricans feel the same way after a weekend at the Four Seasons? Once you have the taste…

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