The other day I was having my weekly visit with my friend Ernie. And as I have noted here before, he has a tremendous amount of knowledge to share with me. It's not only the things like what natural fertilizers to use on my garden or how to get rid of a pesky porcupine, but its the lessons in life that are the greatest gifts he is giving me.
We were sitting in his house ( which is over 100 years old ) and basking in the warmth of the fire in the old McClary Stove. As I sat fixing his glasses, he talked to me about Cars. Ernie loves cars and can go on for a long time about what makes one better than the other and so on and so forth. He then said to me that he never once had a new car. He told me people would sometimes pester him and say, "Ernie, why don't you buy yourself a new car? Don't you want something nice?" I asked him what he thought and felt when people had asked him this question. And he smiled. He said, "Well, I just let them know that nothing stays new forever, and that I hoped they enjoyed making their payments on their "new car" while I owned mine. I've never had much in life, but I never owed anyone anything either."
I think life has changed a lot over the last generation. I sometimes say I was born in the wrong time because a lot of the things that seem to be important in life don't matter to me. I don't care for fancy, I don't care about name brands and I really don't care if some one has a nicer car or house than I do. I just want every one to be happy. Money just doesn't impress me. It often makes me sad when I see people worship the rich and the famous. What makes them think that just because they have money and fame they have earned that attention. Or even want it for that matter. Can you imagine never being able to go out in public without knowing some one might recognize you. Can you imagine what it must be like to not really know if friends are true friends or they are just there for your wealth, or what they can do for you?
I'll tell you a story about the time I met Bill Gates. Now here's a guy who has wealth. Not just money, but WEALTH. I met him at a Marina in British Columbia. My husband, kids and I were caretaking a small island there that was owned by an American. It was one of many islands in the area that were privately owned, and most used the Marina where we also went in an out of on our daily commute to and from town and school for the kids. I had just recently had a baby and I was coming back from the Public Health nurse, where my little girl had gotten her immunization. I had my hands full with the baby in the car seat, diaper bag and some grocery bags as I was trying to manoeuvre myself in to the boat to go home. As I was doing this, one of the crew boats from the neighbouring island pulled in to the slip beside me. The owner and another gentleman hopped out and tied up the boat. When they saw me, they walked up and offered to help. My neighbour introduced me to his friend "Bill" and asked if they could hold the baby. Of course I was more than happy to turf the baby while I loaded up the boat with stuff, and I smiled and made small talk with "Bill" who seemed to have a puzzled look on his face at first, but then was genuinely full of smiles and was busy entertaining the baby. He asked me about how I was feeling, and how it was quite an accomplishment to be able to manage a baby and a boat. He told me he thought it was "quite something."I smiled back, as he handed me my daughter and I took off in my boat homeward bound.
When I returned back to the island I noticed a plane floating at the dock across the bay on the neighbouring Island. Hmmmm, I thought, the neighbours have company. As I walked up to the house my husband and the Assistant Caretaker rushed up to me excitedly telling me Bill Gates had flown in that very morning. I groaned, as I realized who Bill at the Marina was. But then I realized something else. I understood his quizzical look and then his undeniable delight in the fact that I had absolutely no idea on earth who he was. He was able for that moment in time, to be completely genuine as I treated him just like I would anyone else. With kindness, happiness and no false persona. You see, no matter how much money one has, whether it be a lot or a little, we really all just want one thing. And that's genuine respect. No false pretences. And that's how life should be. We shouldn't measure someone's worth by what their house looks like or what car they drive or if their coat is a Columbia, North Face or from the neighbourhood Thrift Store. Our worth should be measured by our kindness, our deeds and our uniqueness. Does Bill Gates remember me? I 100 percent doubt it. But I remember him and the lesson he taught me, without ever knowing he did. He showed the real him. All because I was unimpressed with who he was and what he was. A very cool thing indeed.