This afternoon I had the good fortune to lay out on the beach of the St. Regis in Princeville, Kauai. If my husband and I were traveling alone, we’d be kicking it a lot more low-key, but we are fortunate to have family that invites us places. Absorbing all of the opulence around me, I could not help but understand why people strive for wealth. As a teacher of low-income kids, I will be the first to proclaim wealth and happiness are not the same thing, but sometimes a bit of splendor can be pretty alluring.
Anchored out in the bay was an impressive yacht, complete with its own helicopter parked on back. The St. Regis staff told us it belongs to the owner of Budweiser, whoever that might be. What a different world from the rest of us on this planet. While a yacht is more than I would wish for, it still struck me as a very interesting contrast.
Back during the school year, on days that were particularly challenging, I would imagine myself lying on the beach in Kauai, and everything else would be fine. The fact that I could have this fantasy and really live it out provides a different, but also very real contrast between the relative prosperity of middle-ish class America and the poverty that exists in our country. While I may feel like a have-less when I look at the truly wealthy, I am a have-a-darn-lot when compared with much of the world.
What I am trying to work on is transforming the guilt that sometimes accompanies this disparity into an extreme gratitude that I am as lucky as I am. As I was sitting there thinking about the differences in worlds between myself and the people on the boat, as well as myself and the students in my classroom, I finally had to just tell my mind to shut up and enjoy it. Life is short, we work for a better world, but we should also give ourselves permission to enjoy whatever good comes our way.