Fame. Fortune. Status. Security. They are all worthless.
Unless, you have someone to share them with.
In college, I remember one of the Jesuits (Mario Prieto) telling a story during the 10pm Student Mass about how he and his 10 older siblings used to fight over the food at their dinner table. To combat their behavior and make sure that the little ones received enough to eat, Mario’s mother would constantly remind them: “Sabe mejor cuando se comparte” … “It tastes better when you share it.”
This quote and sentiment has stuck with me ever since.
More often than not, the decisions I make with my best interests in mind are not the same decisions I would make if I were thinking about the best interests of my family, community, or society as a whole. And though there are times when it is in the best interest of everyone for me to put myself first, I believe that there needs to be a balance of these perspectives.
For example, I would have far more money in the bank if I didn’t care for my wife and kids, if I didn’t give money to the church, if I didn’t support charities, if I didn’t do pro-bono work, and if I didn’t invite my friends over for steaks & brews. Sure, I’d have more money, but what kind of life would that be? What would I have traded that money for?
As I reflect back on my life and recount the happiest of times, they all involve other people. From family vacations, to my wedding day, to the birth of my daughter, I couldn’t have experienced any of them alone. This is not to say that I’ve never been happy in solitude, but when I’ve been the happiest, I’ve always been with loved ones.
And so, rather than store my money away in an investment account or reserve my free time solely for personal ambitions, I choose to invest these resources in people. People who are in need of a helping hand, or a listening ear, or some money for gas just to get to work. People who have a dream to chase, or a story to tell, or simply a moment of time and a beer to share. Not because I’m a righteous humanitarian, but more so because I’m not. I invest in people, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but candidly because the dividends it pays are far greater than any stock ever could!
The reward of seeing a down-trodden spirit find encouragement, or a frustrated friend rant to relief, a student who finally understands, or a cash-strapped missionary serve one more day is simply beyond compare. Just the same, getting to share what’s good (and not so good) in my own life with others is an enormous blessing as well. That’s why people post pictures of their lunch, and their dog, and their baby, all over social media. Because alone, it was simply a “really good” salad. But, with my friends, the salad was ah-mazing!!! “Sabe mejor cuando se comparte”, even virtually.
The fact is, we all need each other. For love, for joy, and for meaning in our lives.
Relationships are everything. Nothing else matters.