Wow… what an odd afternoon. The gathering didn’t turn out as bad as I expected but it was awkward and I was uncomfortable.
Generally, I can hold my own in any conversation. I’m educated, intellectual, and articulate. I don’t know why, then, when I find myself sitting amongst individuals that truly believe they are on the cutting edge of all that is and all that will be, I become quiet. I am suddenly aware that I am the biggest person at the table and I begin to make an effort to move as little as possible so as not to draw attention to this fact. I listen to the contrived conversation and contribute almost nothing and I gradually realize that I have, for the most part, become invisible. Gradually it becomes obvious that I simply don’t fit in and instead of obsessing about what I can say or do that will allow me to be a part of this “in crowd,” I sit back and am glad that I’m not.
The person I am isn’t impressed by wealth. I’m not impressed by the expensive car you drive or the new house you just bought or the expensive, 5-star vacation you just returned from. I don’t react to the names of the people you say you know and I don’t care about the connections you believe you have. I won’t say what I know you want to hear and I won’t jockey for position with those that desperately want to live in your world. That is not the person I am and it is not the person I want to be.
Monetarily, I am far from wealthy. I don’t drive an expensive car nor do I dream of owning one and the house I live in isn’t anything fancy. I’ve not been on a true vacation since I don’t remember when and the people I strive to emulate are ones I deeply respect and truly like. I am a good friend to those that choose to get to know me and I do my best to be the best person I know how to be.
I know this sounds really cliché, however, if wealth were measured by the joy I feel when I see my spouse’s car pull in the driveway after work or the excitement I get when I am able to follow along and keep up with the Rabbi as he/she reads, in Hebrew, from the Torah or the pride I feel when the Torah is removed from the Ark and I am reminded that I am part of the People of Israel, then I’d be the equivalent of a lottery winner.
Life must be about more than name-dropping or status-seeking and I have to be a person that is real no matter who I’m with or where I am. To the people at the gathering, I may have been invisible and unimportant but at the end of the day, I know who I am… and who I’m not. I wonder if any of them can say the same?