Thursday, November 01, 2018

Puzzler (more responses)

Only one person chose "wealth", but it's one of my favorite, most thoughtful e-mailers, and their description of how they chose is so eloquent that I'm sharing it all:
It’s an interesting question, especially since the choices are mutually exclusive (meaning, for example, no kids if you choose a spouse or wealth). Assuming a spouse or children doesn’t equal a life of penury, and accepting that all three choices are potentially imperfect, I’d choose wealth.

One major drawback to choosing wealth is missing out on being a spouse or a parent. But it’s worth noting again that all the choices are potentially imperfect; there’s no reason, for example, why your spouse or children might not die before you due to illness or accident. (Of course, I think a survivor can miss loved ones and still feel grateful for time spent together and changes wrought in their lives. And, needless to say, wealth can also be lost through misfortune or one’s own mistakes.)

Some drawbacks to wealth off the top of my head: 1) You’ll constantly be feeling obliged to accomplish great things, as opposed to blowing your money on frivolities; 2) you’ll instantly become a mark for people who want your wealth; and 3), as a result, your freedom will necessarily be restricted, since you’re now a target for robbery/kidnapping. Your days of merrily backpacking around the country are over; it’s all Hiltons and security details from here on out.

The upside? You can use your money to do things ordinary people can’t. Wealth can create possibilities.

Consider your friend who chose a spouse. Imagine that he or she dies and leaves a pile of medical debts. Your mutual friends who also chose spouses or children can do nothing but commiserate. But you, who chose wealth, can make a concrete difference to your friend’s family; you can spare them hardship and misery. That bright kid who would’ve cured cancer if only she’d been able to afford a top college? You can pay her way now. Those children starving on TV? You can help them now. All those rich assholes making the world a worse place? You can counteract their malice.

Sure, wealth might just end up being a monkey’s paw for you, with all your good intentions yielding nothing but the taste of ashes. But that’s true of choosing a spouse or a child as well. The fact is, you’ll never know until you try, and while the personal sacrifice is great, the potential upside is also tremendous.

Now, here's one volley from the "kids" choice:
Before I had kids, I probably would have gone for wealth.  I would have been happy being single and dating - especially with the advantages having money brings.

Now, there's no question.  Kids 100% of the time.  And I had mine fairly late, too.

Before, the joys and frustrations of parenthood would never have appealed to me. Now, though, I don't think I could imagine a life without my kids. 

For me, I think having a child has impacted me, much more, than anything else. It didn't happen right away, but after a couple of years, I started to grow up. I never understood what being "grown up" even meant, but Eli showed me.

That may sound backwards, but that's how it happened.

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