Thursday, June 7, 2012

It’s Not So Easy to Be Rich

by Miki Kashtan

I had my first true inkling that being rich might have its own challenges in the mid ‘80s, when I was in a relationship with a millionaire. At the time I was living in a tiny apartment on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan, which was still in the early phase of massive gentrification. More than once, I remember him standing at my window looking at the people walking up and down the street, and saying: “They all want to be where I am.” More than the words, it was the unmistakable tone of melancholy that I heard in his voice that affected me. Nothing in his demeanor resembled happiness. I also remember another phrase he often said: “What comes after success?”

One of the mythologies of our culture is that having money is the single most important factor in the choices we make, the most reliable path to a life of happiness, and the ticket to feeling good about ourselves. In some significant ways, money indeed provides access to more resources, such as material goods of any kind as well as services that may not be available to all. Having enough money means a certain kind of immediate ease with all manner of decisions. I don’t intend to minimize the significance of such material benefit.

And still... The more I have come to know the lives of people with significant access to resources, the more struck I am with how many challenges and hardships they experience. Given how easily and often the rich are maligned (a challenge in and of itself), I wanted to offer my intuitive and learned understanding of the plight of the rich. If you happen to have access to money, you will likely recognize some of these dilemmas. If not, I hope you can imagine it. My goal, here as often, is to support our collective movement toward a world that works for all, the currently rich and the currently poor, by reducing the veil that hides our humanity from each other.