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A Lesson In Perspective #1000: Money may buy access, but it won’t buy happiness… Or sobriety

I have a friend who is wealthy.  Not “Let’s take a couple of weeks to tootle off to the Bahamas” money, I’m talking, “Let’s not ever work again and live off the interest” money.

He’s been to just about every high-priced celebrity rehab in the US and has managed to, one way or another, relapse within six months of sobering up since 1997-ish.

You see, I always thought that those with money had it easy.  That life was tougher for us little people.  I was also guilty of the mistaken belief that everyone with money was a trust-fund baby – that they’ve all had their wealth handed to them (or stole it through “greed”).  This is what we are taught as babies, all the way through grade school and college…  Mainly by jilted parents, tenured teachers and professors who fail, almost to a man, to put a value on that fat pension and free health insurance for life that they’ll get.

Of course, life has a funny way of showing one their ignorance unless they’re blinded by jealousy and their own greed…  In that case, they pretty much just stay ignorant.  I’ve seen many of these people cling to my friend.  They hit him up for loans, gifts and invite him to dinner with the hope (or worse, expectation) that he’ll pick up the tab.  I despise these people more than the trust-fund snobs.  At least the snobs have a good excuse for being assholes.

In several instances, the greedy money grubbers have even sunken to prompting my friend to relapse just so he’d pick up the dealer’s tab – I’m not kidding.  Sure, he’s the dumbass who gave in, but given that kind of pressure to use, I don’t know if I could have made it.  More interestingly, we drunks and addicts make use of losing streaks to get sober.  With many of the well-to-do, as with my friend, they can afford their habit…  The losing streak for them usually means death or prison – and because they can afford good lawyers, that pretty much leaves death. 

And therein lies the rub. 

I came from decent means but when I finally gave up I had nothing.  I couldn’t see living any lower so I chose to sober up.  Twenty years later and I’m somebody and everything is great.  My ridiculously wealthy friend, for all of his connections, for all of the doctors and medication and money, struggled for almost fifteen years before finally finding a way to stay quit. 

So, the lesson that I take away from this is that while money would be nice (so would the guts to do something that would net that money), it doesn’t buy what I need to live a good and happy life.  Only living right does that…

And my wife and I are heading out to dinner this evening to celebrate my friend’s 1,000th day sober.  He made it, finally.