There's a blurred, fuzzy line between wealth and
fame. They may occur together. Often they don't. If they always
did, all wealthy people would be famous and all famous people would be
wealthy. Clearly this isn't the case.
Neither wealth nor fame are clear cut. There's a great deal of
ambiguity in what it means to be wealthy. Do we, in a rather simplistic
view, only refer to wealth as having "a lot" of
In which case, exactly how much is "a lot"? Enough to own
an island in a
when others make do with a rented quarter acre lot in the
Enough to collect and restore more than, say, twenty
Duesenberg and other classic vintage cars when others walk
miles to work every day because they can't afford a bus ticket? Enough
to acquire a Manhattan penthouse when others will only ever squat?
Enough to pay the rent and come out even when others consider
themselves lucky if there's an available bed in the homeless shelter?
Enough to buy a bag of rice once a week to feed a family of four when
entire tribes are wiped out by famine? Exactly how much
is "a lot" of
Or is it possible wealth, that is to say true wealth,
isn't measured by
at all? Is true wealth, rather, measured by joie de vivre, by a
passion given simply by waking up alive every morning? Is true wealth
measured by having the grace to take on living at
source ie to take on inventing a life worth living by
consideration alone? Perhaps true wealth is a combination of
moneyand joie de vivre. But not necessarily. Or perhaps not
necessarily in that order.
There's also ambiguity in what it means to be famous. For the most
part, we view fame as being known by "a lot" of people.
And again, exactly how much is "a lot"? Enough to be known
(if not personally then at least heard about) by almost
the entire population of the civilized world like Abraham and Moses?
Enough to be known by slightly fewer music fans (but not much fewer)
and Paul McCartney? Enough to be known by a billion or so TV viewing
sports enthusiasts like Mario Andretti and Pelé? Enough to be a
name brand persona in a large city yet perhaps unknown
outside its environs like Michael Tilson Thomas? Enough to be known by
an entire school like the sports coach yet unknown outside the school?
Exactly how many people is "a lot" of people?
Or is it possible fame, that is to say true fame, isn't
measured by being known at all? Is true fame, rather, measured by some
quality other than being known by "a lot" of people?
Maybe. Maybe not. In all likelihood, true wealth is, indeed, measured
by combination of having both
moneyand joie de vivre - with the scales tipping in favor of
joie de vivre. But true fame is pretty much cut and dried. You're
famous if you known by "a lot" of people. Period. The only
variable is "How many people?" ... which equates directly with "How
We're skirting the issues. Let's cut to the chase. Here are the
real issues with wealth and fame: neither wealth nor fame ensure
satisfaction, happiness, nor fulfillment. Sometimes they do. Often they
don't. If they always did, all wealthy people and all famous people
would be satisfied, happy, and fulfilled. Clearly this isn't the case.
Perhaps a question more pertinent to ask about both wealth and fame,
perhaps more pertinent to ask than "Exactly how much is
'a lot'?" is rather "Is it worthwhile?" ie
"Is it worthwhile having 'a lot' of
and "Is it worthwhile being known by 'a lot'
of people?". When I look at what occurs for me inside this inquiry (and
a great many possible scenarios occur for me inside this inquiry), what
it all comes down to is joie de vivre, and leverage.
Wealth ie "a lot" of
without joie de vivre doesn't sound like much fun to me. The pages of
history are filled with tragic figures like Howard Hughes, parlayers of
croesian wealth whose lives ultimately personified the
bizarre rather than joie de vivre. Is it worthwhile to have
croesian wealth but no joie de vivre? Ask King Midas how
he feels about his solid gold daughter.
Here's the pertinent issue with wealth: only the mint can make
yet each and every single human being has the ability at all times
under all and any circumstances to
the quality of our own lives ie to create joie de vivre. Being unaware
of that fact (or, as is true in so many cases, being unwilling to
confront that fact) makes for arduous wealth, to
say the least. Arduous wealth is arguably not worthwhile.
As for fame, the pages of history are filled with figures like
more than famous - revered seems to be a more apt
descriptor, who in spite of gargantuan fame and frenzied adoration
still expressed the ache to be loved and appreciated.
Here's the pertinent issue with fame: fame doesn't supply love and
appreciation, any more than wealth supplies joie de vivre. Yet each and
every single human being has the ability at all times under all and any
the quality of our own lives ie to create love and appreciation. Being
unaware of that fact (or, as is true in so many cases, being
unwilling to confront that fact) makes for
arduous fame, to say the least. Arduous fame is arguably
So the question of what's worthwhile with regard to both
wealth and fame comes down to that which is defined by each and every
single human being having the ability at all times under all and any
the quality of our own lives. If the
you have (regardless of how much you have, regardless of
whether you have "a lot" or not) makes a
difference on any scale, local or worldwide, plus
which you've created for yourself a sense of joie de vivre,
then you're wealthy. That's worthwhile wealth. Period.
What's interesting to note is true wealth has
waaay less to do with having "a lot" of
than at first thought.
And what of fame? Is there such a thing as worthwhile
George Harrison, in pioneering the original breakthrough Concert for
Bangladesh which instantly revealed the enormous power of
rock concerts to bring attention to pressing, dire worldly
issues, personifies leveraging enormous widespread fame to make a
difference. Perhaps this is what there is to do with fame - to
leverage it to make a difference. Perhaps, it could be said, this is
what makes fame worthwhile - if you're a rock star. Without leveraging
fame to make a difference, fame is merely being known by "a
lot" of people. And
That makes no difference to anyone ... except perhaps to
supermarket checkout line tabloid publishers.
If you're willing to take this conversation on, you'll quickly see
there's a lot about fame which, once fully gotten, may not be so
worthwhile after all. For example, consider what it's like when fame
may have said) giving up your privacy like
Or when fame goeswith being targeted for assassination
like John - Fitzgerald Kennedy and
What, then, could be considered worthwhile fame, available
to each and every single human being like a creation, like a
possibility? In my book, in my reckoning, the only worthwhile
fame is being famous for being
who you really are
ie being famous not for what you have, being famous not for
what you do (although that's getting closer), but rather
being famous for being
who you really are.
Don't confuse this with a naïve debutante or a
socialite Sunday papers kind of fame. This isn't being
known for having a well coiffed identity. This kind of fame
isn't based on identity. This kind of fame is based on being.
For me, this is only worthwhile fame - that is, if indeed fame is
worthwhile at all: being famous simply for being
who you really are.