Nobody knows the wealth s/he has until s/he uses it or loses it.

I used to think this proverb was about money, and since I’ve never been wealthy like that, I kind of ignored it. I spent my career in education, (a field not known for generating financial wealth) and nowadays, I teach a couple of college courses.  But a few days ago, as I was preparing to teach my class, a woman came up to me. She said I had been her third grade teacher, and she remembered me because I taught her to love reading – I read so many books and stories with such excitement.  Now she was in college studying to become a teacher – wow!

Nobody knows the wealth s/he has until s/he uses it or loses it.

Until that moment, I never thought I had any wealth. But that conversation made me realize that this proverb doesn’t only refer to monetary wealth. When I expand my definition of  that word, I see that wealth really means an abundance of something – be it the love of  family and friends, or passion abut a particular topic. In my case, I am wealthy in my enthusiasm for reading, and I used that wealth first in teaching children, and now in teaching budding teachers. And I discovered something – sharing that wealth did not diminish it. If anything, my wealth expanded as it influenced others to love reading, too.

Nobody knows the wealth s/he has until s/he uses it or loses it.

This proverb reminds us to inventory our wealth, to appreciate it, and to share it. We can go through the world without realizing how much we have. We can claim poverty and feel sad and woeful. Even worse, we can lose our wealth by never using it. Suppose I had never become a teacher – how many joyous moments I might have missed – my wealth would be gone, leaving regret in its place. Who wants to live like that?

Instead, I invite you to take some time to discover your wealth, share it with others, and enrich the world for us all.

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