“Keeping up with the Joneses.” Whether it is in a positive way or out of envy, I believe as humans it is a natural reaction to compare ourselves to one another. As a young girl I found myself admiring older, beautiful girls and mimicking their style in the hope I would resemble them some day. Then in high school, one finds themself desperate to fit in and become a chameleon to their “click” of friends with the desire to be the prettiest–or jealous of the prettiest girls. Then as you mature you realize how petty and silly all of that was. That those years we were just trying to learn who we really were, what we were capable of in life and what really matters was yet to unfold; how our unique qualities are what make us so special and what make this world and our lives so beautiful. Our life is a never-ending tale, as we turn a new page each day and live and write our destiny.
We are all human, and some days not comparing ourselves to others is easier said than done. When we get knocked down and are out of our routine, I believe we are quicker to assume that others have it better. While the pictures we view on Instagram or the comments we read on Facebook may portray that, we must not lose sight of the true riches in our lives.
During my recent hospital stay I experienced this a few times. On the evening of the first day I was admitted, Noah was standing by my bedside as the ICU nurse failed administering an IV after multiple attempts. I was dehydrated, in awful pain and my body was trembling from being exhausted both physically and mentally. There was a moment I looked up at Noah and had never seen such an expression on his face. He looked so unbelievably concerned and stressed. In the six years we have been together, I had never seen the corners of both sides of his mouth turned in such a downward direction. My heart ached like never before and I felt guilty and angry. Thoughts turned from the continued needle poking to me thinking this extraordinary man should not have to go through this with me. I wished I could just go through this alone and not put any stress or pain from my health issues on anyone else. As a veteran hospital patient who has seen my parents with those similar expressions for years, it is really hard to lay in a hospital bed and watch how my pain affects those loved ones around me.
A few days after that evening, dear friends came to visit us. They are a picturesque family; husband and wife with three beautiful young daughters. All of them are so loving and sweet and each daughter has her own unique and special personality. As they walked into my hospital room, each girl had a pretty homemade picture they drew for me and were all dressed adorable, as always. I lay in bed and watched the one girl who stayed next to Noah’s side asking him questions while the nurse administered medications into my IV. Then I smiled as Noah played with the kids. I wondered what it must feel like to have such a beautiful family and for all of them to be healthy. I tried to imagine what that would feel like. I then found myself wishing I could give that to Noah. Wishing I could give him a healthy family.
Another close friend visited later and we talked about everything going on in my life right now. She sat next to my bedside and held my hand and said this was just not fair. She said I am only 30 years old and that she should be visiting me in the hospital to meet my first newborn child, not for what I am going through. Tears streamed down my cheeks because yes, if life was perfect, I guess that would be the case.
As we all know, life is not perfect. And it is not always as perfect as it seems from the outside either. I had a long talk with Noah one evening in the hospital on my thoughts on all of this. I continue to be astounded by his love and support. We are rich in love and nothing can change that or take that away from us. I believe love is the most powerful emotion and his love will give me strength and carry me through anything. People measure their riches in life differently. Some are rich with wealth; others rich with an amazing career; rich with a beautiful family; rich with material things, or rich with good health. There are so many levels and ways in which we can define how we are rich in life. I continue to learn that we should not compare our life to someone else’s and our happiness should not be measured by what we have in comparison to someone else because we each have our own special path we are meant to walk.
It amazes me as I get older how the days blur into weeks; weeks into months; and then another year goes by. I feel as though everything is so fast paced. So many people are working so hard at their careers and outside of work and are burning themselves out. I believe wealth should not be measured by how fast one can make it to the top and how many “things” they have to show for it, but should be measured by how we take care of our health; not losing the wonder in life; taking time for ourselves; volunteering; and showing love. Things might not always be going as we had planned or as we wish. But when you lie in bed at night, when all is quiet and the lights are off, how are you rich in life? I am rich in love.