I don't know the answer to that.
Actually, I don't particularly even care, except from the point of view that I love words and their many shades of meanings. Nuance is fascinating to me.
We were never wealthy, but we have always been rich.
We are rich in the obvious ways: we have each other. We have our wonderful sons. We have our health, and a cozy home and plenty to eat. We have enough money to pay our bills and we have some money in savings and some set aside for retirement. So we are rich.
But when I look at the standard of living across the world, and even across the county I live in, I realize that we are rich in some more subtle ways. We are rich in ways that would be very easy to overlook.
I am rich in experiences. I have:
- tasted the salt of the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, and the Gulf of California, too.
- scraped my skin on coral and on ice, and I've worn bikinis and snow pants. Not together, though.
- seen the Aurora Borealis, sat in the hot tub and watched the Perseid meteor shower light the sky.
- written my initials in the ash of Mount St. Helens, where it fell on our porch in Colorado.
- been to the borders of our country, east, west and south, and just 8 miles away from the Canadian border. I've been to the Four Corners, too.
- caught a fish, killed a bison (and ate it), raised a beef and turkeys and chickens.
- milked a cow.
- raised an orphaned quail, who came to me still wet from the egg, until he could go off with other quail as a healthy adult.
- tasted foods from many, many cuisines and learned words from many languages.
- read a wide variety, from classic literature to cereal boxes.
I am rich in education, even though I am only a high school graduate. I have learned:
- to read. Yes. How simple that sounds, but I often think of how difficult this world must be to navigate if you are not literate. From menus to street signs to the for-sale listings on Craigslist, reading is the only key to some kinds of knowledge.
- that I can learn. I am not good at everything and struggle with some things in particular, but I have learned that I can learn.
- how to interpret a dress pattern, a road map, a recipe, a parts explosion and a cut sheet.
- old knowledge: how to read the cursive handwriting of someone who learned how to write before the 1940s. How to pluck a chicken, make pickles and how a yankee drill works. New knowledge: search engine optimization, spreadsheets, browsers and other fun stuff like that.
- how very limited what I know really is. There is so much more to know in the world!
How many times do we pause to consider the riches we enjoy? Do you mentally bless your teachers and mentors in life, when something you learned from them helps you succeed at some present task? When you are faced with a new situation, and you can apply lessons from previous experiences to help you conquer this new thing, do you feel rich in experience?
In some way, every person on this earth is rich. Maybe they are only rich in their ability to love, or to be patient, or to endure. Those might be the richest riches of all.