When Tim was about two, we lived in an apartment
community in north San Jose where we befriended a young
couple with their new born. The husband, F, a PhD from a
well-known east coast university, was a smart guy. At the
market bottom, he kept acquiring houses
in the area, moving into new ones and renting out the old.
As their wealth grew over time, the couple had two more
children. The family prospered.
We were invited to every new home they moved into. At the last one,
a palace on a hill overlooking the valley, F bought a high-end BMW
SUV and threw a party. As the guests gathered around and praised
the shiny engineering feat, F claimd with pride that when he wanted
something, he wanted the best. I blurted out that, unlike him, I
despised the best. That was four years ago.
Time probably hasn't changed either of us much. Luckily, F has
remained a friend. Meeting him during Christmas at our hovel
reminded me of that comment. What I meant and couldn't explain
well on the spot, was not just that I felt a bit jealous. That I did.
But it was more than that. At an impersonal level, I rejected things
being labelled "the best" and forced onto us by societies and
marketing on the promise that they will make us happy.
Garrison Keillor told a joke where a girl asked for
happiness as a genie granted her one wish (and only one as
it was a Lutheran genie :-)). "There is no such a thing,
kid. Try something else." was the reply.
I laughed the way it was told but came to see the point
after 46 years on earth. There were no sour grapes and what
the spirit said was true: happiness does not exist. Not the
kind that can be bought, anyway.
Then the question is, what have those "best" things to do with
These days, I have been gradually losing my youthful envy and
bitterness and often feel extremely blessed. Therefore I no
longer despise as vehemently. "The best," to me, has become
simply petty and irrelevant.