Being Rich

Measuring wealth in free time and intrinsic value


I got up early on Sunday to fish on some gold medal water in Colorado  It was a cool 33 degrees Fahrenheit. I tied on my favorite caddis imitation and the ran a tiny little prince nymph dropper about a foot below the dry fly.  I caught five fish; three cutthroat and 1 cutbow and one rainbow. It was such a wonderful and peaceful way to spend the morning. The highlight for me at least as far as the fishing is concerned was when a rainbow came to the surface and snatched that little elk hair caddis with authority. Second, on the last cast of the day, I hooked into a native cutty, the color red gushing from his throat to his mid section. When I released him back into the current I watched him become one with the bottom again, his back a perfect camouflage with the bottom of the creek.

But it was while I sat on a boulder beside the water, being satisfied early by the twitches and tugs on my rod, that I began to appraise my spiritual situation.

The night before, my wife and I spent a majority of our time together wishing and dreaming of having a home in this particular and spectacular valley. In me, our dreaming turned to coveting, not anyone in particular just anyone who owed a nice place here, a place to celebrate Christmas with the family, to step out your door and go skiing, hiking, or fly-fishing. To fall asleep to the rush of water that fades into you as you drift off but there it is again in the morning, waking you up, unchanged despite your hours of not noticing. Such was my state of longing the night before.

Morning washed my spirit clean, mercies were new again. I held a few trout. My fingers ached from the cold water. My breath carried on currents of air and light filtered through Spruce limbs. I heard an unheard the sound of the river.  I  removed my hat as for the national anthem, not so much as to pray as to express long overdue gratitude to someone who has been with me through thick and thin. This was the level of my familiarity with whom I spoke.

“I am rich,” I said. “Father forgive me when I forget this. I have no right to ask anymore of you. Just look at what you’ve done for me.”  I may or may not have employed a sweeping gesture with my left arm to indicate that I was talking about the scene before me, mallards in the current, autumn colors, and, memories of fish just held. I thought about my wonderful wife and our date the night before, 24 hours without the kids, how we enjoyed walking around Vail, stopping in at Sweet Basil for dessert and café au lait, and the treasure of learning something new about her there. Something she shared with me, not some deep dark secret but just a little moment in her life, a story I hadn’t heard and the welcome revelation that there is more to know about my wife and that there are reasons for more dates and more conversations.


My thoughts turned to the children and how I would like to take them fishing when they get older. They all love being outside and playing in the river. A buzz in my pocket interrupts my streamside ruminations. It’s a FaceTime call from my son Jack. When I speak,  the other children hear my voice and soon four children are in the picture and I feel rich indeed. I tell them I miss them and show them the river. Olivia, my youngest, wants to come to the mountains. She thinks it should be as easy as going in the next room. She’s in the moment only like a digital native can be. It’s a perfect. Then the arguing starts. They fight to be in the screen. They speak all at once, clamoring for my undivided attention, a personal word of acknowledgment that becomes increasingly difficult for me to provide.

Jack proudly farts a couple of times. Caroline shoves him. Olivia wants to show me a flashlight and Izzie wants to tell me about the makeover she gave the babysitter, a clown like application of lipstick, which highlights the hired hand’s patience, long-suffering, and good sportsmanship.

After a few minutes of this, I am ready to get back to my fishing. I want to disconnect again and feel the current around my knees. After all, a rich man must attend to as wealth or he may lose it. It comes with the territory.

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