For the past several days, my cousin and her two sons stayed at our house. It was something I’d been looking forward to for a long time, as she’d never been able to visit us until now.
I was very close to this cousin of mine (let’s call her Laurie) when I was a child, but as we both grew into adulthood, we drifted apart for various reasons. She moved east, I moved west, and we would go for years without seeing each other.
Yet, as we’ve built a relationship again over the past few years, I’ve come to find that we have a great deal in common with each other as adults, far more than we had when we were younger. So many of our life experience all the way along overlap with each other. She’s one of the very few people on Earth that I feel genuinely understands.
Re-establishing my relationship with her has been one of the best things I’ve done in my adult life.
As I watched her leave earlier today, a few thoughts occurred to me.
The genuinely valuable things in my life have very little to do with money or accumulation of stuff. It’s people. My wife. My children. My parents. The handful of people close to me that mean a great deal to me (the aforementioned Laurie, John, Rachel, and a small handful of other people that I’ve previously promised not to mention on here). The large group of less intense social connections that I have, ranging from people like my great aunt Dori to some of my old coworkers.
When I sit and take stock of my life, the things I want most are healthy relationships. I want those people I mentioned above to know that I care about them, even though it’s often not the easiest thing to communicate such thoughts.
Buying stuff really doesn’t matter with regards to those relationships. All money really does is keep a roof over my head and keep the people I care about the most reasonably safe and happy and healthy. Beyond that, money does very little to improve those elements that matter most. For a long time, I believed that they did – at other times, I would just use money as a way to make myself not have to think about it.
Buying things doesn’t make people love you.
My short and medium term goals right now all revolve around making sure the people I care about know that I care about them. If it’s truly those relationships that matter to me, then I owe it to the people I care about to show them that I do care for them.
For me more than anything, it means repairing some relationships and it means cementing some other ones. It means some letters and some phone calls and some face to face meetings, too.
After all, there is no point in having financial success if you haven’t secured the things in life that matter to you the most.
What relationships in your life need some mending? Why not suck up a bit of pride and send that person a letter telling them that you really do care and admit that it’s your own inability to communicate that has been the problem? Call them up and do the same thing. Or wait until the holiday season and take that person aside for a chat.