I’d heard of the Peabody Awards, but had never dug deep enough about its origins. Yesterday, George Peabody was the Google Doodle. The original billionaire philanthropist, old George gave over half of his money away and was so thrifty, he still took the bus. His only indulgence was an apple a day and he turned down a baronetcy offered by Queen Victoria, which tells us he had a set of brass balls as large as the state of Texas.
I like successful people who haven’t let their money change who they are. In my cursory research of interesting factoids related to George Peabody, a list of billionaires who still do real things crossed my radar. If anything, I’ve always thought the family behind Wal-mart are a bunch of awful people, but knowing one of them drives a fifteen year old rustbucket was a nice surprise. Granted, rich people aren’t always angels sent from above. They are first and foremost all about business, which is a cold mother, especially when it comes to profit.
For all we know, George Peabody was closer to a crabby, tightfisted miser than Santa Claus. Even so, his kind of realness is the kind that I respect. Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day money is for spending and all the accoutrements are great, but I’ve always been at home with the idea that you don’t have to have something. You just have to know you can get it if you want to.
Like I want to know I can own a Ferrari if I want to, I just don’t need to have one. Or I want to know I can buy an island if I want to, but I’m not going to bother. And I want to know I can get a reservation at the world’s most exclusive restaurant if I want to, but I don’t have to go because I’d rather have Popeye’s chicken. Or I want to know that I can stay out until four in the morning and get shitfaced, but I don’t really need to. That’s it, really. Just knowing you can.
There’s no need for bullshit mega-mansion swag with the fast Italian cars and the private jets and bespoke clothing. They’re fun, and if I was a billionaire I would probably have bigger indulgences than George Peabody’s apple, but I want to think I wouldn’t be what Migos calls bad and boujee. I want to think I would be like Bill Gates, who still rocks a $10 Casio even if he has more money than the GDP of certain developing countries. I want to be a billionaire who still eats tempura at the boulevard because it’s yummy. And because I can. No need to show it, just have to know it. There’s freedom in that.