I am very fortunate to spend several weeks each year in Ketchum, Idaho. The community is tucked away in the stunning Sawtooth Mountains and offers world class skiing and mountain biking. The real estate is insanely expensive and many famous people have spare homes in the area.
My essential packing list includes a few T-shirts, hiking shorts, a pair of jeans, biking shorts, one road bike, one mountain bike, and my Camino hiking stick. A friend is very kind to rent his five-hundred square foot condo to me for a ridiculously low price. Too low to mention and his phone number will never be shared! One bedroom, one bathroom, and one additional room for everything else. No strings to tie me down with this minimalist lifestyle.
For the past three years, I have spoken at the local library about my Camino experience. This has allowed me to develop a great set of eclectic friends in the area. Last week, Chuck and Christie invited me to their family home for some authentic Texas BBQ. Four generations sleep under one roof and we devoured many pounds of brisket. The matriarch shared a captivating tale about her husband losing a local ranch in a poker game many moons ago. After the feast, several grandkids were loaded into the orange wagon attached to the riding mower. Down the hill we went with several sacks of carrots to feed the horses. The youngest boy, Charlie, had me smiling ear-to-ear as he screamed, “oh-EEE-oh” in the direction of the black and white stallion. I felt like a member of this special clan.
The empty home next door is owned by an heir to a breakfast cereal fortune. I would estimate the house to be in excess of twelve thousand square feet and not more than ten years old. The entire interior was gutted and awaiting new lumber, carpet, and bling. The backyard was half excavated for a much needed pool. He owns six of these around the world and ferries between each via his personal jet. I have never met the man and my friends speak very highly of him. I just wonder if a meal has ever been enjoyed on the premises surrounded by four generations of blood relatives followed by a carrot-fest for Oreo.
The first Tuesday after the Fourth of July means one thing in this area. Three hundred golden ticket holders attend an invitation only event at the Sun Valley Lodge hosted by Allen and Company. The coveted invites go out to business titans, celebrities, and foreign leaders. They arrive one by one in jets worth $20M to $150M. The local runway has limited parking so the second tier of the top 1% must park their luxurious rides at rural airports. Proof that the game of keeping up with the Joneses has no ending.
During a few days of the conference, I pedal my Trek through these amazing mountains for several hours and then cruise to the lodge to gawk and sip a foamy latte. The moguls walk by briskly with intent focus on their phones. The children are shuffled between face painting and bounce houses by nannies.
There is nothing wrong with ambition. Some of these attendees did minor things like invent popular search engines, created fruit named phones, and produce electric cars that begin with the letter T. As I sip my latte, I just do not see copious quantities of joy. Balance is the key.
When it comes to abundance, we all have so much. It is so easy to overlook when the focus in on what what we do not have.