Are You Wealthy?

Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.

EPICURUS

WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY?

Lately, I have been dipping my feet in the world of philosophy.  The quote at the beginning of today’s post by Epicurus, the Greek who believed life was about doing what brings you pleasure intrigued me. It reminded me of a recent discussion on CBC Radio.

The radio program was about wealth and its various meanings.  One such meaning in the discussion was that a person was considered wealthy based on the number and quality of relationships one had in his/her life.  Sadly, I often think of myself as struggling, not poor but not wealthy either.  By that standard I had to admit to myself I was rather wealthy.

How often do we worry about not having enough money, enough fashionable clothes or shoes, the most up to date furniture, technology or handbag?  Really?  Imagine what a discussion in Epicurus’s garden would sound like if one were to show up and voice his concern about not having abundance because of a lack of ‘things.’

Occasionally I can really get down about my relationship with food and the fact that my love affair with it causes me to feel guilty about not having a super-model figure.  When I remove the influence of popular culture and really think about how my passion for all things food enhances my relationships with others, I feel foolish. How can looking like a fashion model be more important than true wealth and abundance as I would choose to define it?

Lately I have been thinking about wealth and abundance and what it means to me.  I am working out how I define wealth.  I think a combination of relationships and enjoyment would be how I would like to define wealth.  That being the case I am wealthy because my relationships allow me to experience joy and abundance.

I have been blessed with friends and family and I enjoy spending time with them, especially through cooking and celebrating the goodness and abundance of food.  I also have a strong relationship with nature and the experience of gathering mushrooms and nuts, tapping a tree for maple syrup or growing a garden, connects me to the earth and secures a strong bond and relationship.

I like to think that I have a good relationship with my son. He is my middle child with an older and younger sister.  Add to that a strong mother and a very strong grandmother and he could really find himself overpowered by women.  This however is not the case.  He has managed to assert his masculinity by being rugged, athletic, outdoorsy and sometimes downright chauvinistic. What makes him so unique and charming is that he has a real Renaissance man quality about him.  I like to think that he inherited some of this from his mother.

We both love athletic endeavors, spending time at the lake, farms, walks in the forest, drives on a country road, many genres of music, gathering food from nature, fishing and sometimes just being quiet.  But, even without all these common interests we could still feel wealth and abundance with each other based on our relationship to food.

My son is far away at university now and when he returns home for the summer we are still not in the same town. This does not seem to matter when it comes to us sharing a personal story about growing food, getting it straight from nature or creating and/or sharing a favorite recipe.  One of the best stories I have is when he returned home in the spring and must have wanted to create some comfort and familiarity for himself again after a long school year.

I was 8 hours away tucked in my bed and he texted me to ask how to make bread. I thought it was rather late to be asking such a question as it takes time to mix, knead and let the dough rise before baking.  No matter though, I shared a recipe I often used through texting.  I doubted he would try it but sure enough about an hour later I got a text with a picture attached, and it simply said, “does this look right?”  There was a picture of a mound of kneaded bread dough sitting on the counter.  It looked great.  At this point I think it was about 11:00pm.  I replied, “yes,” it looked great but it would need to rise before baking.  At that point I fell asleep only to be awakened about two hours later by another text.  Another picture and the comment,  “turned out all right.”  Viola, there was a picture of a more than all right loaf of bread sitting on the cooling rack on the counter.

Since then we have shared numerous pictures of food, gardens, and fish he has caught and even game he has hunted.  I love it that I have a son who appreciates food, not just consuming it but also actually knowing a lot about it.  My relationship with him definitely adds abundance and enjoyment to my life.

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