We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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My dad lives by a common mantra: “money doesn’t buy happiness” and believe this to the extreme. The amount of time and money he donates is sometimes absurd, so much so that he’s probably lost years of his life based off the stress of running his company while simultaneously helping everybody he comes across. He’s tried to instill this same sentiment in me and my brothers. I just can’t see where he’s coming from. I agree with helping those who you can, but money not equating to happiness has never really clicked with me. My oldest brother went to college to study philosophy and religion, which doesn’t equate to a great salary. My other brother is currently studying nonprofit business at MU, which is yet another job path which isn’t focused on salary. They have both sacrificed money over pursuing a career path that makes them happy. In comparison, I'm going to college to nail the highest paying job I can, while still enjoying what I do. My family jokes that I’m going to need to get a good job because I’ll be the one paying to keep my brothers out of homelessness. My dad sees money as a non-essential all because of his parents and how he was raised. His parents spent the majority of their life in Kansas City before moving to Berryville, Arkansas, a town where the tallest object is likely a flag or telephone pole. The town isn’t run down in comparison to some places I've been to, but when a town’s top two attractions in their “10 Reasons to Visit” pamphlet are the Welcome Center and the city pool, it’s not going to be a tourist hotspot. My grandparents live in a small house in a small neighborhood about five minutes from “downtown.” The house wasn't small to begin with though. Over the years, my Grandpa has collected and stored piles on piles of, for lack of a better word, junk. His collection is not the type you see on American Pickers. there's no stumbling upon a vintage Lamborghini Miura. It’s more likely you find some bent shovel or dented metal box. The whole basement, garage, and two large sheds are floor to ceiling full of items he’s collected from the auctions Berryville seems to be obsessed with. Whenever we talk to my Grandpa and ask what he’s up to, it always starts with what auctions he’s been to and which ones he’s going to the next day. Every time we visit his collection continues to grow. On one trip down to Arkansas, our only objective was to empty out his garage and sheds as much as possible. According to Grandpa, he only has so much time left and doesn’t want to leave us to deal with all his stuff, which is why he let us help him in the first place. Emptying out his stuff was incredibly slow. Every single matchbox had a story associated with it and a reason we couldn't throw it away. At points, Mom would distract him while Dad hid stuff to throw away later. Grandpa was very withholding because he had spent decades of time and energy collecting. Only he and his auction buddies could have seen any worth in any of it. Grandpa’s happiness was not tied to money, but rather to his passion of auctions and collections. 

© Adam Keehler. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.