Being Rich Does Not Mean Anything
How many zeros you have on your bank account is meaningless. Richness comes within you.
As a surfer, when I thought of what my happy place would look like, I used to think of warm waters and sunny early mornings. Never would I have pictured cold water and rainy late afternoon paradise. And yet, a few miles away from Manhattan, NY, USA, at the far end of the A express line, I surprisingly found that one of a kind happy place.
Life has a way of bringing the unexpected on our way. This is its wealth, our wealth. A wealth that is not measured in zeros on your bank account but in minutes you give to that unexpected.
Sixty. One way. One hundred and twenty. Round trip. This is what it roughly takes to make it from the lifeless concrete sea of the Financial District to the ruthless Northern Atlantic Sea of Rockaways. From your bank account to your watch. From ruling the world and loving it to staying away from it and loving it. From going fast and claiming it to slow down and enjoying it.
In New York, you may show off on hundreds of rooftops. You may live that “fast life” so many see with envy. You may drink Champagne until forgetting you have even opened a bottle. But you may prefer cold and rainy late winter afternoons with a cup of tea in the front seat of your car too, doing nothing but smiling while warming up after an epic battle.
The choice is yours. Personally, I’ve done mine. I prefer being wet and shivering with cold when changing at the back of my car. I prefer blowing warm air on my freezing fingers. I prefer wiping out in a 40°F ocean and breathing a below 30°F air. Because there I know the value of time. There, I slow down. Dramatically.
Slowing down does not mean being slow or taking a step back. You may be incredibly fast and immersed in the moment when slowing down, just come taking your wetsuit off on a snowy day — and see. Slowing down means discovering your path by allowing life to control your pace. Not the other way round.
Out there, fighting with waves and cold, hoping for some sun rays that may warm my face up, I find that special kind of intimacy with Mother Nature I love. I do simple things — breathing, keeping my breath, breathing, paddling, looking at the horizon, paddling harder, getting on my feet — that is yet immensely hard because I do them in an intimate then meaningful and purposeful way.
This is my pace. I love it; I genuinely love it. I learned to love it. I, therefore, learned to slow down. I learned to collect these intense seconds and minutes and hours of connectedness with (my) nature. My lips half-blue and my eyes on the horizon, constantly analyzing swell and wind, I find who I want to become because I learn who I am.
That’s why cold waters and rainy late afternoons eventually became my paradise, my island, lost in one of the most overcrowded places in the world. Alone, silent and salty I find my path, my self. And I, therefore, consider myself rich, regardless of how many zeros I can claim my bank account has.
Each one’s process, from pace to path, is — for good — different, unique. Uniqueness is hard to find though. You can’t seek it. You can fake it. That’s why being rich does not mean anything. Because richness is not about being. Because richness is not a statement. Richness is about feeling. Richness is like an ocean, back and forth. Back and forth.
Taking time to study that ocean, to slow down and find a one of a kind intimacy with it, that is richness. It comes within you. From the life around you to life in you. Not for the life around you.