As I watch the Western world seemingly fall apart at the seams from afar, I reflect on something from a few years ago which still brings a smile to my face. In 2014 I was working as a realtor in Rancho Santa Fe. The most illustrious, wealthy, and elite segment of Southern California. Unfathomable sized estates were the norm and price tags for properties had multiple commas and resembled phone numbers.
I made it a point, when putting out my signs for my open houses, to wave at every person driving by. Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Bentley, but most commonly, Range Rover were the most common passer byes. No one ever waved back. Ever. These people had all reached the “upper echelon” of society where many strive to be. Wouldn’t they be the happiest?
Yesterday, I was driving my scooter down a rural side road which separated two vast oceans of bright green rice paddies. As far as the eye could see, perfectly organized, bright green squares of manicured rice. All planted by hand. Scarecrows gently blowing in the breeze. I passed a large group of local farmers all bent at the waist in one section, planting small groups of rice. Completely covered in clothing to protect from the sun, with the heat of the day bearing directly down on them.
While returning from the market, I took the same route in reverse, and I came back onto the same rice field. Only this time, all the farmers, both men and women, were taking a break under a small tree on the corner of the plantation. Roughly 15 farmers sat drinking and conversing in the meager shade. Simultaneously, they all tilted their heads up and looked at me slowly whizzing by again. I took my hand off the handle bar to wave, and every single farmer lifted their hand to wave in return and smile. They were truly happy.
I think sometimes life is about perspective. When you have so much, you have more to be unhappy about. Yet when you don’t have much at all, you have no reason to be unhappy at all. Live simply.