Can’t Tell by Looking!

Photo by Viktor Hanacek


When I was a kid my friends and I loved going to the ‘rich neighborhood’ to look at beautiful houses with large picture windows.  I recall peering through those windows and imagining cheerful wives preparing world class dinners for their handsome husbands.

In my mind, the families who lived there had no troubles or worries; just pounds and pounds of pleasure!

After admiring the houses in the ‘rich neighborhood,’ my friends and I would sometimes take a short-cut through ‘the hood’ to get home.

If you don’t know what ‘the hood’ is, go google ‘hood’ images and rejoin me after you have had time to review the results.

At any rate, ‘the hood’ that I am speaking of was exactly two left turns from the tony neighborhood with the big picture windows.

Uh oh, you seem surprised by the proximity of these two polar opposite realms?  Don’t be! Believe it or not, my friend Gloria swears that you can always find ‘the hood’ by taking two right turns from any wealthy district.

While I have no way of verifying that this is always the case, it was certainly the case in this story.

Anyway, let’s just say that ‘the hood’ was—DIFFERENT.  There I saw frazzled wives asking their dog-tired husbands for a dollar or two. Clearly, this scene was not at all like the one I imagined as I walked through the ‘rich neighborhood.’

Sorry, friends, it had not yet occurred to me that I was comparing real situations to imaginary scenarios. At any rate, in my childish mind, it was clear that in ‘the hood’ there was mostly trouble, big worries and nothing much to be pleased about.

Sadly, after years of conducting this side by side comparison of rich and not so rich, I had come to the misguided conclusion that if you wanted to be happy, ALL you needed was a lot of money and that was all there was to that!

Yeah, like many Americans, I bought into THAT delusion.

Anyhow, as fate would have it, several years later, I ended up attending a high school that had a very diverse socioeconomic population.

If you had surveyed our school’s student parking lot you would have found Jaguars, Mercedes, Buicks, Nissans, Hoopties and everything in between.

Of course, there were also students who came from families who had no car at all.

I used to joke that some of my friend’s parents owned the factory, some managed the factory, some worked at the factory and some couldn’t get hired at the factory!

Laugh if you want to, I am being very serious!

Getting back to the point, as a popular cheerleader, I easily made friends with folks from every economic class and, as a result, I soon learned that many of my ‘rich’ friend’s parents were drunk and fighting and my ‘poor’ friend’s parents were truly enjoying each other’s company (and vice versa).

In short, I learned that you cannot calculate the happiness factor of a family by looking at their bank statement (that’s if they have a bank) or by any other outward measure.

In addition, it finally dawned on me that the ‘cheerful wives’ that I imagined as a child in the rich neighborhood could have been dealing with bankruptcy and physical abuse while the ‘frazzled wives’ that I saw in the hood could have been enjoying relatively happy marital relationships.

So here is the takeaway:  Do not make judgments based on exteriors; people are much too complex for that.

Also, do not attach peace, happiness, joy, anger, sadness and pain to financial status. If you do, you will end up leading a very confused life.

Be aware that these feelings are always in a state of flux- and they will take turns grabbing hold of you from time to time regardless of your socioeconomic, ethnic, or educational background.

Your job is to enjoy the good times and find a healthy way to manage the hard times.

Now, detach thyself from all of that mess and go get thine life!


48 thoughts on “Can’t Tell by Looking!

  1. Great post! Money certainly cannot buy love. This brings to mind a Marilyn Monroe quote, where she said “a career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”

    And, a while back, you said your son was putting you on to some rap music from Kendrick Lamar, I think. Well, in the spirit of your post, I have attached a link to J Cole’s song called “Love Yourz”. He addresses what you are saying in this post a bit about love, appearances, and happiness. “…no such thing as a life that’s better than yours”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very interesting and thought-provoking piece Lady G. Maybe mine is a slightly different experience. Poverty in my experience can be often associated with other social ills which do not make for a happy life. I saw too many people I grew up with turn to drugs and get killed before they turned 20. So I guess there are the extremes and you want to be somewhere in between where you have a bit of both not just subsistence living as I call it.

    We grew up in segregated areas too. We used to visit the other side to scrounge for castaways in their dumps. I don’t think I had too much time to imagine their worlds because if we stared too hard at their homes, we were called derogatory names and made to run like hell.

    But to your point, I agree – money doesn’t buy you love. Love buys you love and many things besides. And that love starts with each of us loving ourselves first in order to spread the love and happiness. Personally, I love me some nice things but great experiences by far overshadow the things.❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for weighing in on this Chevvy 🙂
      I value hearing many diverse perspectives especially when it comes to socioeconomic issues. Frankly, I didn’t really realize what our ‘class’ was until I got to high school and met all those rich kids.
      In the town where I grew up there was a lot of ‘old money.’ These are the people who created the Augusta National Golf course known for The Master’s Golf Tournament…if you are unfamiliar, it is internationally known and considered one of the creme de la creme tournaments in the world.
      The kids from those families really did drive Porsches and Jaguars.
      It was something to behold. Also, those families were very much into ‘breeding’ so they could not bring home someone below their ‘station.’ Who’d a thunk all that was going on in lil ol’ Augusta GA?
      Wonderful and meaningful experiences over stuff most any day 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. tunisiajolyn84

    What a great reminder to not judge others based on money, status or fame. I think I sometimes fall into this American way of thinking more times than I care to admit. Growing up in a poor neighborhood, it always appears shinier or a nicer on the other side but as they say, grass is not always greener on the other side. Typically, there are other forces to contend with from that angle as well and really, no matter which side a person is on, the inner peace can be achieved no matter what because that is free.99. 🙂 So again, thanks for sharing this because sometimes, I think if only had a little more money to feel comfortable financially, I would be happier. Granted some of my stress would be alleviated but at the end of the day, I control my own emotions no matter the circumstance. It’s not necessarily about how we act in life but how we react in life that brings us closer to peace and happiness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are so right Sis!
      Of course everybody deserves to have their basic needs (Food, clothing, healthcare and shelter) met.
      That said, some people get caught up in the belief that this thing or that thing will bring them happiness… only to find that it’s not true.
      I went through that myself—accumulating all kinds of material things. But when I started exploring inner peace through meaningful spiritual practices I realized I didn’t need that stuff.
      Don’t get me wrong, I still love nice things but as I was saying to another blogger here, I would much rather have money to spend on experiences that I can share with those who mean most to me—not to mention helping others.
      Thanks for stopping by, love 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thoughtful piece, G.! Er… what’s a “Hooptie”??

    My dad worked in a factory… after his little “dry goods” store burned down. Insert eye roll. It was not a happy time.

    Nope, can’t tell books by their covers, or people by their skin. So there!
    ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ohh, ha, i never would’ve guessed that’s what a hooptie was! We call them clunkers too. I think. At least, I’ve seen that word before. Another thing we call ’em is “piece o’ cr*p”! 😀 LOL!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I only wish I could come in reality but for now I have to visit through your lovely blog.
          I’ve never travelled out of the states but I am putting my intention out in the Universe so that I can come over there and enjoy the sights, the sounds, the people, the landscape and the food!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Woebegone but Hopeful

    That is a story true and well told Gwin.
    Thanks for reminding us (The UK population were tricked into that line in the 1980s by the ‘T-mob’ and their acolytes…..Domestic violence, alcoholism, drug use, increased and with no end in sight)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All of that madness going on in the prettiest homes with the most manicured lawns and the 50K+ cars.
      What did our friends from your neck of the woods say?
      “Money can’t buy me love.”
      And if anybody should know…they should know 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Great insightful post Cuz! Money can’t buy happiness is so true but so many people have to find that out for themselves.

    You only have to look at the rich, sad, depressed, suicidal people that the media parades across our devices’ screens daily.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You can be happy whether or not you have money. You can be wealthy and unhappy and you can be poor and happy. Equally you can have money and be very happy and you can be broke and still be happy. Happiness is a state of mind and does not need external influences to determine the level of happiness you experience. However having enough money to meet all your needs is infinitely better than living in poverty.
    A very thoughtful post, Lady G and I agree with you initially thinking that if you live in salubrious surroundings that you are bound to be happy – it makes sense doesn’t? However experience tells us that life is a lot more complex and life is rarely what it seems.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello there Mystic Marie! How are you over there on the other side of the pond?
      I agree wholeheartedly. Ain’t nothing happy bout being too broke to meet your needs.
      There may be some who can be contented in that space. I just haven’t gotten there yet 🙂 LOL!
      And, as you said life is very complicated and you never know what’s REALLY going on beneath the surface in certain cases.
      But let me back that up and say….most people never really know what’s going on beneath the surface; however, I am willing to bet that Mystic Marie knows much more than most!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. All money does is buy things. I grew up with my parents divorced at a young age and lived with my mother until I was a teenager. Somehow my mother raised 3 children on her own. It made more sense as my brother and I got older to live with my father because he was remarried and was financially stable. So I can appreciate both sides being poor and my father sending us to private schools.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Looks like you really saw the difference up close B! It is so hard when children have to split from a parent (especially mom) for financial reason but sometimes that is best.
      And you are right, all money does is buy stuff; it surely doesn’t make people happy in and of itself.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Jet

    Here’s a story that is reported by some as fictional, and by some as true. However, if it is true it is a great example of how one should not judge a book by its cover.
    According to the story, two “country hicks” came to Harvard and wanted to talk with the president.  A haughty secretary resisted the couple and made them wait for hours.  In exasperation, she finally asked the president to see the visitors, which he did if for no other reason to get rid of them.  The couple told him their son had attended Harvard for a year and he had loved it, but had been killed in an accident and they wanted to build a memorial to him.  The president discouraged them, saying they couldn’t erect a memorial to every student who had died.  The couple said they were thinking of donating for an entire building in their son’s honor.  The president discouraged them and mentioned how much all of the buildings at Harvard were worth.  The lady commented to her husband that if that was all it took to build a university, they ought to construct their own.  So…Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford went to Palo Alto, California and built a school in honor of their son…a memorial to a student that Harvard no longer cared about.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Brings to mind the proverbial, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”. All you have to do is watch TV to know that your observations are so, “on point”. I’ve often asked myself this question; If money buys happiness, why are so many of the affluent killing themselves? Why do they have to over medicate themselves with prescription and non prescription drugs?

    The key to happiness is LOVE and as the Beatles once said, “Can’t buy me love, love…..I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love”!

    Liked by 4 people

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