Free Money

A question was recently posed to me. If money was no object, what would you change in your life? I was so struck by that question that I have been thinking about it for several days. It reminds me of when Bill and I periodically play Lotto, and speculate what we will buy when we win our billions.

I have learned in my 68 years of life that money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s a trite adage, but it’s arguably true. I say arguably because it sort of depends on what one does with the money. I can tell you for sure that all of the things that are in my Denver home’s basement that I now have to figure out how to get rid of never really made me happy. Clothes don’t make me happy. Expensive cars don’t make me happy. An enormous mansion to call home wouldn’t make me happy.

But there are things that money can buy that will — and do — make me happy. If I have an unusually delicious meal at a restaurant, I leave full and gratified. Our 2008 European adventure was an amazing experience that Bill and I still talk about very often. I’m happy we could do that while we were both healthy. I’ve been to many exciting American places — New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, Boston, to name only a few — and I’ve been able to stay at nice hotels while visiting these places. A night at the St. Francis Hotel where I was greeted with a beautiful basket of fruit and an extraordinarily comfortable bed left me feeling content and spoiled. And happy.

I guess the bottom line is that it really isn’t THINGS that make a person, well, at least this person, happy. Instead, it’s EXPERIENCES that spark joy.

Having said all of the above, if money was no object, I would hire a full-time housekeeper and a full-time chauffeur. The housekeeper would make the experience of living in my existing homes pleasant. I wouldn’t have to look at the dust on my tables and know in my heart-of-hearts that I should be dusting instead of working on my puzzle. A chauffeur would take me wherever my heart tells me it wants to go. My first trip would be a drive to visit our family in Vermont on blue highways. Perhaps I would have him (or her) pulling an RV so that I have someplace to stay every night. Maybe we could take a detour to Washington D.C., and I could eat oysters at the bar at Old Ebbitt’s Grill and spend the night in the Willard Hotel. (It would be up to my chauffeur to figure out where to park the RV.)

It’s fun to dream, but it makes me happy that I’m content with my life, money or none.