This is a follow up to yesterday's post that covered a variety of financial wealth levels and how that impacts perspective of the relative worth of currency. First a tip of the hat to commenters Leland, Eli, and Ronen. Thanks to a late addition by David Semeria for a historical reference towards to Utility, thanks Dave sorry my buzz to twitter update conked this weekend (late post share there). The depth and quality of their responses has been outstanding, and I'm grateful they choose to share their thoughts here.
Wealth is Love
If you can find someone who can not only tolerate your kinda crazy, but absolutely adores it then you have discovered the most valuable wealth on earth. Sharing your intamite thinking space with a life partner is the most precious experience on Earth. You'll wake up each day and appreciate your good fortune, you'll happily steal moments to spend time with your love, and you'll dream about even more adventures with them a night! The sum is greater than the parts. The quality of my life is enriched immeasurably by my fiancé Michelle and I endeavor to never take her presence in my life for granted^.
Wealth is being Excited about your Life
There have been dozens of times as a kid where I became overly hyped up on a new toy, gadget or video game release. It's the same expectation that happened on vacations or trips. The child like impatience, "are we there yet?" was brought on by a bubbling of enthusiasm that remains to this day largely untamed. I have found that enthusiasm is a form of wealth in of itself. When my efforts are aligned with enthusiasm there is little that stands between the beginning and end* of a challenge. The flow state sets in and time ceases to be an issue. Odds are I'm pulled out of a working flow "trance" by other responsibilities, or the yelping of my small dogs. It's healthy to break up any long term high functioning activity with other lower level activities.
Wealth is Curiousity
Our minds as children are unmatched in their ability to absorb information, and when I get stuck on understanding something I find going back to a blank slate of assumptions highly rewarding. Yoda had the right idea in Empire Strikes Back, "you must unlearn what you have learned".
It's not so much forgetting what we have learned, but not letting previous knowledge hamper current understanding. Problem frameworks shift with time, but key elements of solutions reappear. The biggest challenge to learning that I come across even in the most brilliant of people, is when folks get mired in existing frameworks or semantic arguments. They can't let go of complex existent heirarchies and embrace what is with a new formalism. Communication by definition is a read write system, and listening is by far the more important skill. Wise listening is a filter that best suits who we are, and where we wish our life paths to take us.
Let's Not Forget Financial Wealth
Economies rise and fall. Forms of labor are exchanged the world round in an increasing number of market places. Our attention is drawn to HUGE markets like the NY Stock Exchange, or massive customer acquisition networks like Google Adsense, or social gobbling plants from outer space like Facebook. While these massive resource movement pools appear to be the heart of wealth, what is taking place is a shift of value to the edges by leveraging the network economy. Many smaller markets and businesses are the actual surface for exchanged wealth. From the local convenience mart to the organic farmstand down the street, the financial network is finding Internet routes to aid logistics to distributed locations. Increasingly middlemen with little value added are cut out of exchanges, and the competition increases for human "touch" that adds real value.
There are even resource exchanges without direct monetization like Open Source licensed software. I can write and contribute to projects, or share my own software. Make no mistake, these frameworks are exchanging labor, but not in the measured way of old. Every time I boot up my operating system, grab an open source language and libraries, I'm leveraging millions of man hours. This is a true debt I recognize, and will pay it forward with contributions of my own (my github project list is short, but I've just begun).
*= there is almost never an end to empassioned work, only a number of new beginnings
^= although I do space out sometimes on my computers