upper waypoint


Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Oprah Winfrey is worth $2.9 billion.

I don't know how much Joe makes. We're at the river in Gold Country and Joe holds cubes of iron pyrite, the ones that sparkle like little diamonds. During the Gold Rush of the 1850s people would collect this fool's gold, thinking they'd hit the big time. We're sweating. He points out the Alders, the birch-like volunteers at the river's edge. He's an art teacher.

Damien Hirst, the world's richest living artist, is worth $1 billion.

We climb down to the river and pull off our shirts. We're both strong swimmers.

Michael Phelps is worth $40 million.


As always, Joe's the first one in the water. We've been coming here from the Bay Area since we were kids.  Joe was going to be a famous artist.  I was going to be a rock star.

Madonna is worth $700 million.

I dive in after him, both of us swimming in the Stanislaus, the cold water shocking us. Joe's been my best friend since we were tots. We crawl onto warm rocks to sun. "What kind of clouds are those?" he asks. "Stratus maybe?"

Al Roker is worth $30 million.

"Cumulus?" I guess. We both look at the sky and wonder. The white noise of the river relaxes us. We've come up for the weekend and it's always good. I'm back to work on Monday, but Joe gets the whole week off. Joe collects some dry Alder sticks for barbecue dinner. Joe is an amazing cook. Watching him eat makes me jealous.

Wolfgang Puck is worth $75 million.

"Let's pick up some wine on the way back."

"Sounds good," he says. We head back to the car, the weekend making us feel alive. Joe's a half-full kind of guy, and I feed off his positive attitude.

Tony Robbins is worth $480 million.

As we drive back towards town, a song comes on the radio. It's from a new pop star, one that's getting tons of press and media attention. I wonder what it would be like.

"What if our dreams had come true?" he asks me. "We'd be listening to you on the radio right now."

"Yeah," I say, "and you'd be in New York."

We both laugh, knowing we wouldn't be here. And that would be a shame.

With a Perspective, I'm Les Bloch.

Les Bloch is a construction project manager.

lower waypoint
next waypoint