REVIVAL: Rich Enough

I used to dream about being able to afford designer clothing, gemstone jewellery, antique furniture and an Italianate mansion in a hip, inner-city suburb. I used to dream about being rich, but I honestly don’t do that anymore. This is not to say that if a windfall came my way I wouldn’t live it up, but I’m not chasing that windfall in any meaningful way.

The dream of expensive clothing, jewellery and furniture went first. When I made the switch from buying new to buying (mostly) second-hand, I stopped coveting things and merely rejoiced in what I found when I went shopping.

Then the dream of living in a hip, inner-city suburb went. This came about because my boyfriend’s new job meant a move to a rented house in a country town. As it turned out, it wasn’t just any country town, but a country town where I managed to make good friends. I was as surprised as anyone that I should suddenly have a host of new friends as I approached my mid-thirties. 

Then the dream of the Italianate mansion went. My boyfriend and I recently purchased a fibro house in said country town. The house is very basic, but the garden is rambling and beautiful, and we have good friends in the area. So the quality of the house itself hardly even matters.

During the tense, week-long negotiation with the real estate agent over the price, I remember thinking, “We won’t get it. Nobody gets everything they want.” And I was as surprised as anyone that I should be thinking this way about a very basic house; that it was all I wanted after a lifetime of aspiring to an Italianate mansion.

Generally, the richer you are, the bigger your impact on the environment (the likes of Allen Ginsberg aside). Movie stars and old-money heiresses are often dubbed environmental activists when they plant organic vegetable gardens or purchase hybrid cars. But those same people can be seen living in extravagant homes, holidaying all over the world, and wearing new outfits to every event. The trappings of the good life don’t come without an environmental cost.

Amy Choi grew up in the family business (a Chinese take-away) and is a three-time university dropout. She was once a finalist in the Vogue Talent Contest and flew all the way to London for lunch at Vogue House. She has worked in customer service, as an usher, foster carer, freelance writer and columnist, most recently for The Age. Her first book will be published next year. She's still dating her first boyfriend and they live in country Victoria with their two daughters. Keep track of Amy's op-shopping adventures at her Revival blog... and at GWAS each fortnight.


Green Eyed Girl Scout said...

I agree wholeheartedly with this. Your post reminds me of the tale about the fisherman and the capitalist. In a nutshell..

The humble fisherman was sitting down by his cottage, whistling to himself and wondering how he was going to flavour his catch for dinner that night.
He was visited unexpectedly by a businessman trying to persuade him to change to fishing nets. He tells the fisherman he can catch hundreds of fish instead of just enough for himself, and after several years he would be a very rich man. "Imagine what you can do with all that money!" he says, "You will need to move to the city, hire a team and work over the weekends to get ahead. But it will all pay off, of course. After 10 or so years, you could retire, live in a quite little place by the lake an spend your days fishing for leisure! Imagine that!". The fisherman looked around bewildered, wondering why ever he would need hundreds of fish to feed his family of three. He already had everything he needed!

There is more to the story than this, but the message is clear- to appreciate what you have, and remember that more wealth and material possessions will not bring real and lasting happiness to your life.

Anonymous said...

What a cool post! I'm still waiting for all these things not to mean so much for me.. waiting to be rich and to be able to afford whatever I want.. maybe oneday..