Who is Rich?

My friend, Lily, just got engaged. Mazel tov, mazel tov, the sound of breaking glass is not far behind. (For those who don’t know, under the chuppah, or wedding canopy, the groom steps on a glass at the end of the ceremony to recall the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E.)

Lily, who should have been happy, instead was disappointed. Her fiancé had dressed up in a tuxedo and got down on one knee and bought her cards expressing his love. But it just wasn’t what she had imagined would happen and it was all sort of anti-climactic.

When I worked at National Lampoon, I once wrote an article called, “Fantasy vs. Reality Sex.” In one column was what I thought would happen; in the other column was what actually happened. Fantasy: “He has a well-trimmed mustache.” Reality: “He has long hairs sticking out of his nostrils.”

Isn’t it often like this? I often think how I’m going to feel if only this or that happens. And then the thing happens but it’s not what I wanted.

After I wrote The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle, I went up to meet my ex-literary agent in her fancy office in New York City. I thought it would be so exciting to meet her and have her tell me what a fabulous book I wrote. I got there and her assistant spoke to me for a while and then the agent walked in and said, “Oh, so you’re the one who wrote the motorcycle book.” She spoke to me for a few minutes, and then returned to her inner office.

And that was it.

I still need to remind myself that those very things that I think will make me happy, that will fill me up, that will bring me peace and joy won’t do the job.It’s the other things, the daily things. Taking care of myself each day. Taking care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. The other things are important, of course, but I find that sometimes if I set myself up with huge expectations, disappointments can’t be far behind.

This is what it is. This is what I’ve got. I want to try to appreciate what I have right here, right now. So now I come to the answer to the headline, Who is rich? That’s what a rabbi who called himself Ben Zoma asks in the Talmud. The one who is happy with what he has. So congratulations to Lily and may her days be filled with joy!

PS. For those of you who were wondering why I disappeared…I’m in the midst of finishing my next novel and I have to get back to work…



About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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10 Responses to Who is Rich?

  1. Thomas Scott says:


    Amen. Count our blessings. Looking forward to your next book.

    Tom >

  2. Do I stay or do I go? Your post came at a good time, Diana. 🙂

    • dianabletter says:

      Oh, let us know what happens…You’ll get your answer, Marilyn!

      • Diana, I’m staying. After finally getting close to the beach last year, I was experiencing guilt at leaving “home.” I had a long talk with my mom, who assured me she is fine and doesn’t need me to move back home yet. 🙂

      • dianabletter says:

        That’s great news. Enjoy everything. And here’s to taking what your mother said as what she said, and not trying to read whatever messages we think are hidden beneath her words!

  3. Anonymous says:

    We wouldn’t want to interrupt! Yay for all of us!

    • Carol Ann Tack says:

      We wouldn’t want to interrupt! Yay for all of us!

      • dianabletter says:

        Thank you, Carol! Hope to come to your library again to speak to your great group of readers!
        Hope you’re enjoying the summer.

  4. Rhonda Blender says:

    I remain appreciative of how you capture these feelings and the workings of the “inner world/inner life.” What you wrote here about expectations and disappointments and gratitude I strongly resonate with. Thank you for these gifts of putting it to paper so that those of us without this talent can nod our heads in understanding.

    Another novel!! We’re waiting to preorder!!

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