By Bo Sanchez
My parents breathed simplicity. Oxygen too, but that's pretty obvious. Dad was an assistant vice president for a humongous company, yet I didn't "feel" like I was a rich man's kid because my parents made it a rule to live below their means.
A millionaire's son rode a sleek Benz; I rode our sixteen-year old Toyota that sounded more like a drum and bugle band, with its cacophony of bangs, rattles, and whams.
An heir of the moneyed class was chauffeured to school, but as early as Grade III, I was taking the public transportation-- sitting, standing, or swinging from its handrails like a flapping flag.
The wealthy dined on gourmet meals every day. But the culinary highlight of my whole week was when Mom bought Coke for our Sunday lunch-- the only time we tasted the stuff. I'm not kidding.
Rich kids wore outfits from the most expensive department stores. I wore clothes from the discount stores.
The mansions of the rich and famous are veritable furniture showcases, complete with sixteen Egyptian jars from the Nephertiti era. I learned that one of those monstrous flower vases was equal to the price of our entire house. But naturally, we too, had our own flower vases. If my archeological knowledge serves me right, they came from the Nescafe era.
Their estates have playrooms with life-size Barbie's and Power Rangers. But the way I played with expensive toys was admiring them from the store shelf and using my imagination to the hilt. That way, I owned all the toys in the world.
You'll be shocked by what I'm going to tell you, but through all this, I recall never feeling deprived in any way.
Let me tell you why.
I remember my father coming home every night and we'd go jogging together--around our old car parked in the garage. (Dad says he wasn't vying for the Olympics anyway.) Then I'd sit on his lap and we'd talk about how to solve the problems of the universe.
After dinner, we'd read the comic pages together. Tarzan was my favorite, until I reached puberty. From then on, it became Jane.
Almost every Saturday afternoon, it was father and son time. We'd walk to the shopping center and Dad would buy me a hotdog. Then we'd walk back home, bringing a little something for Mom, usually a chocolate bar. To add sentimental value to our token, I forced myself to take a few bites from it.
I guess being with Dad and Mom was all that my little boy's heart ever wanted. And I got it, every single day.
I believe that God chose to write the "map of happiness" on the ordinary parchment of simplicity-- like a treasure map written on recycled brown paper.
Consequently, many people ignore that map, and are attracted instead to the more glossy, loud, shiny maps around. But when they follow these others maps, they end up tired as a dog chasing its own tail.
I have a radical suggestion........Simplify.
Simplify because you want to discover the depths of your soul.
Simplify because you want to start living deliberately.
Simplify because you want to love from an uncluttered heart.
Remember that simplicity is only the first step of the journey. Holding the treasure map, memorizing it, photocopying it a thousand times, and keeping it safe in a vault won't make you claim the gold. You actually need to sail through oceans, climb peaks, cross valleys, and explore caves.
Simplicity will point to you where and what and who the gold is in your life.
Once you know your gold, the game has just begun.
Will you treasure your gold?
My parents knew their gold:
1. Each other,
2. Their six children, and
3. Their faith.
They tried to live uncluttered lives so that they could have time for what was most important.
They didn't busy themselves buying a bigger house, because that would mean working harder to pay the monthly amortization, doing overtime work or taking a second job. Who would then go jogging with little Bo every night?
Who would read Tarzan for him? They didn't burden themselves buying a BMW because that would mean laboring and worrying about installment bills. Besides, walking to the shopping center every Saturday afternoon with his son gave my dad his needed exercise, and made little Bo feel special.
One of the delights of my heart was seeing Dad and Mom in their bedroom at night, after our nightly family prayer. The lights were turned off, and I'd see the silhouette of my father seated on his old chair and mom stand ing behind him, gently massaging his shoulders.
I'd hear them talk about what transpired during the day. Even as a child, I sensed their quiet pleasure at being together.
My question today: Could they have done this rich ritual each night and nourished their marriage if they had been busy paying for designer outfits for themselves or their kids, or if they had been worrying about monthly bills for new hi-tech appliances?
I don't think so.
And I've made the choice: I don't want that kind of life either.