Two couples lived next door to each other. The house on the left towered over its neighbor to the right. It was a large house with wondrous landscaping, fountains, and an outdoor pool. The house on the right was just a small bungalow with a plain front lawn.
Though the couple on the left had many luxuries, they were never home to enjoy them. The wife had a “successful” job in advertising, and her husband was a doctor. Both spent most of their days at their jobs and little time at home with family or each other.
The couple in the house on the right spent a lot of their time at home. They worked at their day jobs, and then spent the rest of their days home together playing games, watching movies, and conversing. They did not have money for the luxuries their neighbors had, but they were happy, so it didn’t bother them.
As the years went by, the couple in the house on the left grew more and more wealthy. But, they spent less and less time with each other and their family. Their neighbor’s finances were unchanged, as were their house and lawn.
Though they were neighbors, they only saw small glimpses of each other’s lives, and would smile and wave at each other on occasion. The couple on the right were in awe of the couple on the left’s life. They watched new luxury cars come and go, as well as larger and larger TVs. Though they admired these luxuries, they were happy with their life that they shared together as a couple and with their family.
The couple on the left envied the couple on the right. When they were off to work or meetings, they would catch glimpses of romantic dinners or family celebrations. They would look fondly at their neighbor’s house during the holidays - full of decorations and family. Though, contrary to the public eye, the couple on the left did not think of themselves as “successful”. No matter how much money they had – no matter how many luxuries they accumulated, deep down, they felt poor somehow. The world had taught them that money equaled success, and that success equaled happiness. But, as the years passed, the couple on the left found this to be untrue. Though their neighbors to the right had very little, their life was full of riches that money couldn’t buy. Their neighbor’s lives were full of moments and memories.
So, the couple on the left decided it was time to retire. They left their jobs and put their large house up for sale. After the sale of their house, they started the process of moving. The couple had purchased a home closer to their family where they could spend their remaining years.
The last moving truck was ready to leave, and so were they. Before they left, they walked over to their neighbor’s house and knocked on the door. The door opened to reveal a woman and man who smiled and said “Hello!”
“Hi,” said the wife on the door step. “We just wanted to say thank you.”
The wife in the house looked at the woman on the step. “For what?” she said with curiosity.
“Though we really have never talked with either of you much, we have admired your lives. You both are always smiling, and seem very happy. I would look over at your house during the holidays and see a house full of people. With our jobs, we really didn’t have much time for our family. In fact, we spent most of our holidays alone…sometimes at our jobs.” Her eyes started to tear up slightly as she continued “All these years I had the wrong definition of success in my head. Thank you both for this priceless gift.”
They embraced in a warm hug, smiled and waved at each other one last time. The couple moved into their new small house; one that finally felt like a home. They spent most of their time with family and friends, and more time with each other.
The richest of us are not those with the most money, but those with the most memories.