Forget about Warren Buffet or even Jimmy Buffet as the richest person in the world, though if I had to choose one it's more likely I'd choose the guy eating a cheeseburger in paradise. The other guy spends his days in a suit (strike one) in Nebraska (strike two).
A lot of people see Bill Gates as the richest person in the world. How can you be rich when you've got the ball and chain called Vista around your neck? He may be a nice guy, but I'm glad that he doesn't run an airline. He'd spend all his money de-icing the planes when they froze. We won't talk about the crashes. Bill's the kind of guy who may own the roses, but I wonder how often does he actually stops to smell them?
Who else is thought to be rich? Ah yes, the Walton family of Wal-Mart infamy. How can you be rich when you start your morning by walking through a parking lot full of RVs and K-Cars into a shopping environment that leaves you feeling hollow? Not bad enough for you? The place smells like cheeseburgers in suburbia. Worse still, the Walton family does this in Arkansas. Next batter please.
How about Queen Elizabeth? She must lead a richly pampered life. Personally I think her life must be hell. It's so formal and rigidly scheduled. She doesn't have the luxury of leaving the palace to toddle down the street to Asda to buy a new pair of knickers, like I do. Asda is the U.K. subsidiary of Wal-Mart, battling for market share with British owned Tesco. I suppose Liz and Phil could always drive their RV to Asda, spend the night in the parking lot and shop early before the crowds. No that wouldn't work...the Corgis wouldn't be amused walking on asphalt.
So who's the richest person in the world? It could be you. It could be me. Money does not make you rich.
I repeat, money does not make you rich. Lifestyle does.
I'm not going to name the richest person in the world, but I'm going to describe him. He lives in rural New Brunswick, high up on a hill overlooking the marriage of the Belleisle Bay and the St.John River. Every morning he wakes up before the sun Kilroys its nose over the horizon. He puts in a full day of work before most suits make it to Starbucks for their morning transfusion. He has no boss. Mother nature feeds him constantly, and he feeds her.
As a professional photographer, he sees the world in a way that most of us don't (I didn't say "can't", I said "don't"). He can find more beauty in the acre of land underfoot than most people can unearth in a lifetime of blind travel. Yes, he's a businessman, but you'd never know it. A tie hasn't disgraced his neck in decades. He doesn't own a cell phone and he hasn't got high speed internet. He rarely watches television yet he's got his pulse on the world that matters.
He lives in one of the world's greatest salad bowls. His home reminds me of the smallest cathedral in the world...step inside and you'll have a religious experience without the trappings. He travels and works in equally stunning locales throughout the world: New Zealand, Namaqualand (South Africa), and St.Jacques (near Edmundston).
St.Jacques? What's there you ask? When you see the work he does in St.Jacques, or anywhere for that matter, you'll be reminded that he can turn an acre into an orgasm.
He makes his living doing what he loves. He balances his passion for photography with his love of sharing what he knows. His workshops perennially generate waiting lists of people who don't park RVs at Wal-Mart. His workshop participants are some of the most highly creative, free thinking individuals who own cameras. He's made lifelong friendships with many who have dared to peer back through the lens at themselves.
So let's have a quick re-cap of (one of) the richest person (s) in the world. A reminder: we don't talk about money, just lifestyle. He gets up early, by choice, because he's intelligent enough to know that 6 a.m. is far more attractive than 11 a.m.. He laps up rich morning light like a kid with a double scoop cone, often with camera in hand (actually more often on tripod). There is no commute...his fuel efficient car idles not in traffic. He exercises without a gym membership by lugging manure to his garden, or clear-cutting brush, or planting azaleas. He eats exceptionally well (no cheeseburgers in this paradise). He takes a nap if he feels like it. He's surrounds himself with great people....correction: great people surround him by choice. He'll enjoy a glass of wine with dinner while the sun sets over the Belleisle. He's constantly reading books that must have been sent to him by Stephen Hawking and/or the Dalai Lama (his twin, separated at birth). If he's not reading books, then he's writing them. Or he may be writing e-mails that open like much cherished gifts.
So who is this dude? If you don't already know, then you can check out his web site here. The image you'll first see on his home page is what life looks like when the sun peeks through the mist of morning. I've never seen anything so beautiful by stepping out of my RV in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
How rich is your life? Not everyone can be like my friend the photographer (I'm still striving), but have you made a conscious effort to surround yourself with a world that inspires you? Are you dining on cheeseburgers in paradise, or Big Macs at Wal-Mart?