Poverty or Plenty


It was important to Rita that she have a career. More important than anything. She married, but neither she nor her husband wanted children. She wanted her offspring to be the lives she touched as a professional woman. It was the late 1970s.

Rita decided on a career path. One that was going to be difficult because it was typically a man’s world. She didn’t buy that. If she studied hard, worked harder, she knew that she could do it. She could compete with men. She could certainly work with men. She was up for that challenge. Not only would this career path be fulfilling for her as a professional, but it would provide her with financial security. Financial security was important to Rita. She had never had much of that growing up.

Rita went to college, then to graduate school. She succeeded in obtaining the credentials she needed to pursue her desired career. She went after a job. She was highly sought after because she was a woman. It was now the early 1980s and companies were seeking diversity in their workforce.

Rita worked very hard, accomplishing as much as two men. Companies still discriminated back then. She was never paid as much as men doing comparable jobs. She stil worked hard. She was able to have a home, cars, clothes, travel, and all the things she thought she wanted. Best of all, she was able to buy them with money she had earned. She didn’t have to depend on any one else.

She didn’t regret her decision regarding not having children. She’d never been taught domestic skills growing up. Never been encouraged to be a mother. She wouldn’t have known how. Outside of her work, she developed many other interests and a plethora of friends. She had a lot of skills, both in her vocation and as avocations.

As Rita got older and started thinking about retirement, she realized that she didn’t really want to retire. After all, what would she do with no family? She had already traveled around a big part of the world, at least the part she wanted to see. She had known for some time that her home didn’t really give her pleasure. Rita had been taught to take pleasure in “things.” Beautiful, expensive things, but they were still just things. She had a house full of these beautiful and expensive things that meant nothing to her. They carried sad memories. Memories of loved ones who were long gone. She hated looking at these things. They simply signified the loss of the family she had loved.

Rita had “plenty.” But, plenty of what? Material things? Sadness?

Then Rita experienced a crisis in her life. A traumatic experience that made her question everything about her life. Her home reminded her of that crisis. She felt that she needed time away from it. She decided to take another trip, this time to a place she had always loved but where she had not visited in some time. A very different place from her home. Somewhere she felt she could recover from the traumatic event that had occurred in her life.

Something happened while Rita was on her trip to the place where she felt she could recover from her tragedy. Rita realized what she needed in her life and it was not the “plenty” she had at her home. It wasn’t the big house, the nice cars, the beautiful clothes, and all the largesse that goes with it. She realized those things were causing a poverty of her spirit. Putting her energy into taking care of such things was the wrong thing for Rita to do. Instead, she needed time to live simply, in a simple place, with like-minded people. After that revelation came to her, she didn’t care about her home again.

Rita realized she couldn’t live any longer with the poverty her spirit felt. She had to leave the people and places that made her feel inadequate and stressed. She had to leave the house where she had plenty, but where she really lived in poverty, and the house that stole her time. She had to run, as fast and hard as she could, toward the place and the people who made her feel young again, strong again, smart again. She had to do it quickly because she was in the last quarter, the last quarter of her life.

She would take with her the people from the “before” life who she loved and who loved her and who made her feel strong. She would leave all the others behind. She would embrace the new place, the magical place. She would make this last quarter of  her life the quarter of “plenty,” not poverty of spirit, and finally be happy.


  1. A very realistic story, but it isn’t all told yet. Did she find the happiness she was seeking? I get the feeling the answer is no. Usually it isn’t finding the people that make us feel good, it’s finding how we can help others feel better, that tends to enrich life. Or maybe that’s what you’re implying by her seeking that “magical” place.?


    1. The untold details can be left up to the reader. They could include that she had always helped others and found that it was time, for the first time in her life, to help herself.


      1. I’m sure our imaginations can fill it in, too. From the story i got the idea she’d been helping herself all along and collecting all the perks, but your thought is a viable angle, too.


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