La vera ricchezza sono le persone. True riches are not things but people.
This morning a slight youngish man with a red van, where the tools of his trade were neatly lined up, each one in its specific space, knocked on my door. It was my electrician who had come to check up on a plug in the kitchen that had started to splutter and spark. He’s not your usual electrician, and I would like to find an excuse for having him drop by more often. For we always has what I like to call a real conversation. Not about his health, or what other work he was doing, or the weather, but a more personal, one might almost say philosophical, approach. I admit I am a bit jealous of our relationship.
He’s the kind of person who asks permission from a tree before boring a hole into it to attach a cable for outdoor lights. He’s the kind of person who will carry an ailing old dog, who can’t make it by himself, up and down three flights of stairs four times a day.
This morning upon entering, his eyes fall on the open book propped up on the bureau by the door. “It’s speaking with us,” he notes with a nod, “it’s an ongoing conversation with the author, poet, or with the giver, with the person with whom we shared those pages.”
I show him the photo of the little girl running on the beach, her arms outstretched to catch a ball. I say nothing more, but he intuits what it means. “She’s running to embrace the world,” he says. And he is right.
The photo of my mother and me as an infant. “There’s serenity there,” he says.
Yes, he’s an electrician. But above all, he is a person. A very special person, whom I hold dear. We do talk about the passage of time, the mounting up of ailments and adversities, but as he leaves he says, “yes, but after all ‘La vera ricchezza sono le persone.’” True riches are not things, but the persons. It is the people, your friends, who are your true riches.