I am the good guy – As I mentioned earlier this week in another version of “lies,” last weekend I toured Cornelius Vanderbilt’s summer “cottage,” The Breakers. While marveling at the beauty and fantasizing about living in such splendor, the majority of my focus was on the excess. The houses 4 floors have around 130,000 square feet of living space, the primary living space (the first two floors) exceeds 65,000. Fifty-four (54) full sized replicas of my current house fit inside the primary living space (108 if you elect to fill the entire residence).
To be fair, they had three more children living with them than I do… so they needed the extra space, and all of the servants living on the third and fourth floors. But… this is not about them… its about me.
As I stated above, I walked through the building with an air of put-upon commoner. I talked (read: complained) to friends and co-workers(upon my return to Boise) about the extravagance, indulgence and excess. I judged the Vanderbilts for what they had beyond their needs, and the decadent lifestyle they chose to live while so many others toiled in poverty (even under their very roof). I was offended that they could “blow” so much money while people like me live pay check to paycheck, just hoping the car doesn’t break down or no one requires a trip to the ER
Then I looked at my About page…
I then reflected on the fact that I decided Wednesday night to tote the family down to Taco Bell for fast food rather than making dinner with the food I had at home because I was tired and didn’t want to cook. I considered that I have money in savings (not a lot, in fact… very little, but, some). I sit, at work, in an office with its own climate control… consuming energy so that I can be comfortable while I work my 8 hour shift before I drive my own car home and decide what to have for dinner (my third full meal of the day… probably augmented with a snack or two along the way and all the cold, fresh, filtered water I could ever want).
How must my lifestyle look to this guy… (and please note… I intentionally didn’t go with the worst case scenario for effect… if you want to see that picture… scroll to the bottom)
Neither he, nor his anyone else in his family, will ever consider savings. His entire (probably rather short) life will be spent in emergency mode. If he ever handles money, it will go as fast as it came on food, water, or some other necessity that is not currently a part of his daily routine… let alone taken for granted.
He will never know what a taco bell is, let alone decide to eat there because he feels wiped from a day spent working in his air conditioned office (in fact, he might never know what air conditioning feels like).
And on and on and on…
To him, I am the Vanderbilt family. I am the excess, the opulence, the conspicuous consumption… I am the bad guy in his life’s story (whether he knows it or not).
Its not just money, perspective exists in every facet of my life. I judge people who’s perspectives are different than mine as being bad; however, from theirs, or someone else’s I have failed to even consider, I am the problem.
I am not the good guy, nor the bad guy either for that matter, and every time I start to think I am it should send up a great big bright red flag. No, Soren, you’re not the good guy (no one is)… you are just… a guy. Perhaps more fortunate than some (and less so than others)… but, at the end of the day, certainly not better.
The guy I didn’t choose…