This I Believe

Beth Ann - Ashburn, Virginia
Entered on December 6, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

A few years ago, I found out I was rich. No, no, don’t tell my creditors, they will be calling at the end of the month anyway. I only have a couple of bucks in my pocket, barely make rent on my apartment, spent all my retirement funds, and my kids’ college savings amount to $87.45 of kickbacks. That is not important.

I own a share of 84 million acres, some of the most beautiful unspoiled land in this country. Best yet, unlike my little forays into private real estate ownership, I don’t have to mow the lawn or take a second mortgage to replace the plumbing system. My land is managed on my behalf by the National Park Service. For a few dollars a night I can set up a tent and forget about life for awhile. I can let my kids roam and explore. Rangers will answer all our questions and show us the best sites.

Not impressed with my wealth yet? How about if I told you I owned millions of books, many rare and priceless? I have a card with my picture on it tucked into my wallet allowing me access to any book at the Library of Congress. Five little cards currently dangle from my keychain. They allow me to take any book or recording I want from over 40 buildings full of books and recordings. I just take want I want, when I want, and somebody else puts them away for me. How is that for VIP treatment?

Buildings made of the finest marbles and painted with gold; buildings with the newest architectural designs; I own lots of buildings. The ones that I don’t actually own, I can still hang out in as I am a member of an inclusive club called the public. The from the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne, to the huge National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, VA, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, or Boston Children’s Museum on a Friday night. Art, science, fun and kitsch. It’s all there, for me.

Then there are the parties, The Jazz Festival in Montreal, I’m invited; Mardi gras in New Orleans, I’m invited; National Book festival in DC, I’m invited. On and on, in every city in this amazing country of ours, okay Canada is pretty amazing too, there are events everyday which are free, which are inspiring and uplifting and…

I see everything laid before me, like unburied treasure. I know how I came to see the treasure: Child number four. I chucked the career to play with the kids, and a year later persuaded my husband to get a little crazy with his career, taking a huge pay cut to move out west. Now, I’m back on the east coast, back to work, but my world can never be the same. I found the treasure. It was there waiting for me to notice it. This I believe, I am so very rich!