On Friday, my friend Ed left this world. He is the dad of one of my closest girlfriends. I think he was 82 (not sure). He lived in Tacoma, Washington and he was an avid outdoorsman who especially loved to fish. He spent many happy hours quietly fishing the Puget Sound. He was also a birder, and I’m told that shortly after he passed away, a large Pileated Woodpecker paid a call to his back yard. He loved animals, especially big galumphing gleeful dogs. He was attentive to wild creatures and knew a great deal about their habits. He appreciated the beauty of wildflowers and trees and green growing things and he took the time to stop and look at them. He worked hard his whole life, raised five children, and remained single (by conscious choice) after he and his wife parted ways some 40 years ago. He was an all-around good guy who invested his energy in friends and family. I can still hear his voice in my head saying his characteristic enthusiastic “you betcha” or “is that so?” He had a reverence for even the smallest of life’s miracles.
Now this is going to sound like a non sequitur, but bear with me. Last week I watched the film Inside Job about the millionaire-billionaires who caused the worldwide financial meltdown. You know the ones. They have never been prosecuted, they walked away with heaps of money, they destroyed the lives of millions of people, and some of these thieves continue to sit in high places in the Obama Administration and in the presidential inner circle. They show no remorse. But I was surprised that I didn’t feel angry at them. Instead I found myself pitying them. They are such limited souls.
Those millionaire-billionaires, with all their money, are such nothings. They are never satisfied, always trying to accumulate more wealth, always wanting more and more. Their lives are so loveless. They wasted their lives swindling people and causing harm. My friend Ed was such an infinitely better man than any of those rich and powerful financier-thieves. And Ed’s rather simple life was so much richer than theirs. Ed took the time to appreciate the beauty of the world, of nature, of the people around him (both passing acquaintances and those he loved dearly). Not everybody does that. Those poor millionaire-billionaires wasted their lives. Whereas Ed, my dear friend Ed, he took care that nothing was wasted, that every lovely living creature was noticed, every golden moment appreciated, and opportunities for good times with dear ones never squandered. Those millionaire-billionaires who own private jets, yachts, and mansions? They own garbage. Worthless garbage. They own zero compared to my friend Ed. Ed owned the world. My humble friend Ed lived a modest life that was infinitely richer than the lives of all of those millionaire-billionaires combined.