Money does not equal wealth. Wealth is what you’re left with if you don’t even count the money (in). Often confused as being synonymous with wealth and abundance, money serves only as a proxy, as an estimation of successful endeavors in only one very narrow domain. It’s a flag and a measuring stick to which we attribute more than it is. This does not mean that it is not good, useful, necessary, important, safety and comfort generating, but it still has little to do with wealth and it can serve only as one factor of a very complex equation that encompasses all facets of life, as a segment of living well and fully.

Money doesn’t equate skill, virtue, status, influence, joy, freedom, knowledge… Having money means you’re good at incorporating and packaging in these things to serve them to the free market as it is in this point in time and in a particular niche. In an ideal case it means you’ve been here long enough to be able to acquire all of the mentioned above in order to get money as a compensation for the value you bring to the table in exchange for your time and expertise accumulated through life experiences. But as a marker of wealth it fails. If the two were equal it would follow that all people with money feel fulfilled, and that there are no sad, empty or unsatisfied among those with extensively thick bank accounts if it were the ultimate highest goal to reach as a human. Sure, it will alleviate some of life struggles and make some necessities and basics in life a non-issue, leaving more time to devote to other things, but it is not the final solution. Money should not be the end goal but a means that allows for other goals and ideas to come to life, hopefully lifting as many people as possible along with you. It can be the juice behind the idea but in itself it is useless and cannot substitute the idea or stand in its place. Without a thing to funnel it into that is of greater importance than itself, it is barren, just numbers flickering on a bank account. You don’t build a home for the sake of owning bricks and concrete, but to make a home for someone and something and gain meaning from feeling like you have a home, not a house, a home. You don’t trade money for things just to be able to claim ownership over them but expect the things to bring an improvement in any area by having been there. It would be beautiful to live in a society that traded in skill for skill, good for good without the middle man that gained more praise than it should have, but you don’t live in that reality, you live here where money is necessary.

It is not by accident that the race for money is called a rat race. Rats are animals that can learn to navigate a maze pretty well, it might take them a few tries but most of them will eventually get it. A maze has a symbolic function, be it you are searching for its flourishing center or a way out, and almost as a rule to get out or to the core you’ll need to walk a far greater route than the direct aerial distance of the radius of the maze. There might be cheese or some other thing in the center or at the exit that motivates the rats to maze on, but the cheese will be eaten and is temporary, just as the rewards for the fastest “rat” in the market race are. So solving the maze is not the point in the long run. What you learn along the way is the point. Each dead end is not dead at all, it is alive with possibility because now you know which path not to take and you’re narrowing the choice options to the correct one. You’ll have to walk almost all of the surface of the maze to find a solution because even wrong roads bring about valuable information and experience, which applied and accumulated is a reward far greater than a bit of cheese incentive. So, the priceless thing about a maze is not solving it but traveling to all corners of it to explore and continuing on with the knowledge of the previous experience. This is how you travel, you take every opportunity that opens up and explore its usefulness as far as it leads you, then backtrack to the last stabile point and course correct.

Money is only one road needed to solve the riddle, a supporting role for something grander. Wealth is what you are left with when all of the money is out of the picture – wealth is the experience you’ve gained, what you’ve created with it, the people around you that came along for the ride, how you feel about yourself and the world, the things you’ve learnt and love, being loved and being better than you were when you began. If the money shows up along the way so be it, use it fruitfully and don’t confuse the means with an end goal.