Dec. 21, 2009: There Are Some Treasures That Money Can’t Buy

I am a rich man, a man of incalculable wealth.

Had I read these words through some magical process several decades past, I would have assumed that my bank account would be overflowing and my estate large and prosperous. Not so.

Time has given me a new value system. I now know that what makes you rich is not what is in the bank. It is what is in your heart.

There is no amount of money that can give you the warm feeling you get when a grandson stops by after work and mends broken gadgets and gives free tutorials on how to use all the electronic gismos we have accumulated. I would never tell him that I could probably fix the stuff myself and maybe even figure out the gizmos but that would deprive me of a weekly visit I cherish. (In his defense, after he saw me fall off a ladder trying to clean the gutters he has decided it best to keep me on a tight leash. He is probably right.)

Money can’t buy back life. Tragedy such as we have experienced will test the fabric of a family. We survived the experience, sadder but stronger. Never again will we take anything for granted, except the love we feel for one another.

God has given our family new life in the person of a great-grandson, Cameron Charles Yarbrough. That doesn’t remove the scar of our grief, but he is a reminder that life moves on and we must move on with it or perish in our sadness.

If wealth can be measured by friends who care about you, our cup runneth over. I play golf with friends. I paint with friends. I attend church with friends. I laugh with friends. I exult in their successes and I weep with them when they suffer heartbreak. Good friends are priceless.

When I was working, I missed a lot of treasures. I guess they have always been there but only in the last few years have I discovered that my backyard is owned by birds: Cardinals, blue birds, woodpeckers, yellow finches, thrashers, blue jays, robins, sparrows and probably another few dozen that I haven’t learned to identify yet. An afternoon ritual is to gather in our sunroom and watch the birds sing, flit, bully one another and compete for space on the feeders. I have tried to tell them there is room and food for them all, but that doesn’t seem to make much difference to them. I think they enjoy squabbling. I enjoy watching them squabble.

Money won’t buy a glorious sunrise at St. Simons or a sunset, either. God shares his glories with the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy. I never paid much attention to sunrises or sunsets. I do now. They are precious.

My life is richer because of those of you who take the time to read my words and tell me whether you agree or disagree and for the good folks at the Marietta Daily Journal who no doubt wince at some of my opinions but allow me the freedom to state them.

I had no idea when I began writing a column, it would be so up-close and personal. There is nothing more gratifying than to have someone tell you that something you said was impactful in their lives — whether you made them laugh when they wanted to cry or gave them a different perspective on a troubling issue or an opportunity to prove you wrong on some particular factoid. Yes, I get paid to do this, but no amount of money can bring the satisfaction I get from talking to you.

Why am I telling you all this? Maybe you are richer than your bank account tells you that you are. There is no better time to take an audit of your treasures than in these tough economic times. Money won’t buy the spontaneous laughter of a child, the look of appreciation when you help someone in need, the satisfaction of a good deed done anonymously, a piece of music that gives you goose-bumps, a “thank you” or “I’m sorry,” a strong handshake or, yes, a sunrise and a sunset.

Let’s face it: We are wealthy people. One and all. Donald Trump should be so lucky.