For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26
The great and dreadful responsibility of wealth is the true test of ones character. (?)
[rework the quote until it is perfect]
[It is the saying on the calendar for today’s date—gets me thinking about my life and goals and continues until it becomes after work cocktail conversation]
I wonder what that means, anyway, “great and dreadful”.
Personal Goals [I am young (23), single, career minded and on track to my goals—just finished college and working first position on ladder to success.]
[I am going about my business [newspaper?], living a good life, and dealing fairly with my fellow humans. Lunch with the “guys” brings up the subject of “what would you do with a million dollars?” Tom, Dick and Harry want toys, mansions, and throngs of admirers. Matt would start rival newspaper with a conscious and humanity. Mark’s sister is dating a guy that is loaded. I share my dream of Utopia]
On way to meeting: Is this for real? Is this guy with the mob? Who do I think I am kidding? They probably just want me to give them a plan so they don’t have to do the work, then they will take fame. [The evil already creeps in]
Philanthropist hears dream and wants to make it a reality. She wants to know what my motives are and how I will accomplish it. I must give up secure job to take risk on this venture.
At work that afternoon, while reality sinks in and words ring through head, many people to help are brought to mind. Office helper who is pregnant teen could have great career in advertising if she could finish school. Sandwich delivery boy who is aspiring furniture maker…boss’s daughter who is wasting her opportunities belittles working schmucks…
Also, there are reason’s not to…news article about investment scam…
[keep the reader guessing what Elizabeth will choose—let them think about what they would do—take sides]
I contemplate offer over night. Friends align pro or con.
Father is pessimistic. He says it is to protect me but I think he is trying to hold me back. Boss at paper says it is noble and I have “stuff” an not let door hit on way out—but don’t expect to come back if I fail [really his way of removing crutch but sounds like an ultimatum].
The investor gives money—the dream becomes a potential reality. We visit lawyer and bank and she leaves. The plan is put into motion—architects, city officials, and news media all buzzing. The buzz is for a new community center.
Dad keeps bugging me about corporation responsibility and doesn’t want me to have my name on the project. It is time to start paying myself first. Fight with zoning. Environmental puzzles to solve.
I found a creative solution for environmental issues. Anything is possible when you have money.
[Solving these issues makes Elizabeth a bit prideful.] I did it; I can do anything! I am the best thing that has happened to this town, to mankind… Women really do rule!
I make a ceremony out of the ground breaking on major buildings. Press is starting to turn bad.
I set up landscaping and everything is underway. The buildings are going up and it “looks” great. Investor wants to know what is up—how many people have I helped, who is benefiting from the project. Doesn’t she understand? I am not finished building it yet.
The parable—the lord and the talents. I am building a monument with this money. Vanity? Will it be worth the same when I finish? Ah, there will be no increase this way.
Where is the profit?
The day I accepted the responsibility of wealth was the greatest and worst day of my life. I felt like I had won the lottery. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would happen to me. I always said that if I had a million dollars, I would not let it turn me into a monster and I would use it wisely. But, I had no idea what a tremendous liability wealth could be.
I ponder how to find the balance between ideals and practicality. I try to recapture the WHY of the whole project. I put construction on hold, then turn it over to the general contractor and turn my attentions to administration.
I start to recruit worthy tenants. There are lots of charlatans in the world. I understand what Mrs. Money goes through and what she must have felt like to find me. Maybe this was a stupid dream.
Find the preacher. Press starts rumor of cult activity.
Find the first “right” person that needs help [girl from office]. I tell a little of her story to press. I tell a little about the project. I withhold details to reduce deluge of applicants—this becomes justification of “cult” rumors.
The equal opportunity laws regulate the process. Father starts “I told you so”. General contractor stops and encourages all workers to do the same. Dad is sure this is a mistake and is really bugging me and raising self-doubt.
Press digs up dirt on girl’s family and keeps spreading cult theory.
Girl needs too much and she needs it NOW [complication of press]. A personal catastrophe has made her need more urgent. What can we do before the construction is finished?
Preacher helps with recruiting and suggestions with construction.
Preacher starts working with youth & church groups to build and plant trees [plaques for each tree and troop that planted it] and finish barn. He fights the prejudice generated by bad press.
We have the needy but no help. Where can we find the people to make this work?
Find the B&B couple; they help with girl. Girl illustrates brochures.
Youth group publicity helps secure good standing in community. Chef from [big city] hears story and comes to join us as caterer-in-residence. His revenue will make a big move towards making the project self-sustaining.
Promotional Brochures arrive. First inquiries of charter residence are arriving. Some of the most wonderful people in the world are requesting applications. [Continue in “Artist’s Haven”]
First craft bazaar is well attended, worker picnic makes everyone feel good and brochure proofs arrive (they are GREAT), barn dance brings many skeptics bearing goodwill.
Investor returns to check on the project—she is pleased. Press and Father are also pleased. Close with a toast to future.
The Building of Atherton
Chapter 1—Be Careful What You Wish For
The great and dreadful responsibility of wealth is the true test of ones character. (?)
My date book greeted me with the Daily Quote. I barely take time to read these, but today’s message seamed [to catch my attention] to be particularly philosophical. I wonder what that means, anyway, “great and dreadful”. It sounds like something out of the Bible. What could be so dreadful about having wealth?
As I rush out the door I scroll through my appointments for the day. Looks like I will be in the office for the morning, but the afternoon is a total crunch. During lunch, I will be reporting on the open forum with the new Superintendent of Education regarding her views on Home School as an alternative to traditional education [speaks of family value and tradition] [or maybe, they are debating cutting “arts” from the curriculum???]. That will barely finish in time to drive across town to the City Planning Board’s hearing for zone changes to add another Reception Hall [another name for a “Bar for Rent”] [maybe speak here about family and tradition, instead] to the cities ever-growing list. I may not even hear the end of that debate before the meeting of the Entrepreneur Business Women Association Annual Regional Conference begins.
I am not going to miss the Conference Opening Keynote address just to listen to the debate at the Zoning Commission. One of the perks of being with the press is attending these things at no charge, and I didn’t fight to get this assignment just to miss the best part. [Speak out load to self to give some dialog—“I wont miss that!” and others]
As I drive to work, I contemplate my goals
The forecast predicts this will be the coldest week of the year, glad to get it out of the way in January. I wish I had a house with and attached garage instead of this apartment and curbside parking. I could live without the shivering while I wait for the car to warm up on these dark winter mornings. The Daily Quote comes to mind—a bit of wealth would save me from the cold. How great it could be not to brave the elements to earn a measly salary?
I was born to be an Entrepreneur. I may be fresh out of college without a track record, but I don’t intend to be with this small town paper forever. This is just the first rung on the latter to my business future. I was raised to believe the true path to the American dream is through business ownership, not punching a clock to for the privilege of lining someone else’s pockets [building someone else’s business].
[I am young (23), single, career minded and on track to my goals—just finished college and working first position on ladder to success.]
At the autonomous age of twenty-three, most of my girlfriends are measuring the attributes of a man to see if he is Mr. Right. It is as if they have need of master and protector. I sometimes wonder if this behavior speaks of what they want for their life or of society’s expectations. Is this freedom or just another face of oppression? Conversely, I am looking at every opportunity to find my authentic path. I plan to be independent, emotionally and financially, before I settle into a domestic partnership. I will remain liberated as long as it takes to reach my true potential as an individual. It is the right, even obligation, of every man, and woman, in America to exercise the freedoms of this nation, and to pursue the American Dream, the opportunity for anyone, regardless of circumstance of birth, to attain “the good life” whatever it may be for them.
[I am going about my business [newspaper?], living a good life, and dealing fairly with my fellow humans. Lunch with the “”guys” brings up the subject of “what would you do with a $mil?” Tom, Dick and Harry want toys, mansions, and throngs of admirers. Matt would start rival newspaper with a conscious and humanity. Mark’s sister is dating a guy that is loaded. I share my dream that may never become reality.]
Vendredi [FR.=Friday—day named for Venus, goddess of love.] Office gopher, she is a sweat pregnant teen who may never have opportunity to reach awesome potential.
[parody on Matthew of the New Testiment]
For about a year now, my sister has been dating this guy that works downtown at the YMCA. He is really popular with the kids and he seems to know everyone in town. He lives in one of those small old houses behind the University and drives a 10-year-old car. She asked him why he lives in the student slums and he said it is “adequate for his needs” and he is comfortable there. She thought it was really odd that a guy in his mid-thirties would still be living like a college pauper, but she couldn’t help being in love with him. She figured he was “the one” even if she would have to support him. Last November she invited him to go back home to meet our folks during the holidays. He told her he had plans to be out of the country. He occasionally goes to some small village in a developing country to build a school, houses, water systems, roads…whatever they need. Turns out, the guy is loaded. He doesn’t even pick up a paycheck form the Y.
As a teen, I would wish for a windfall. After all, what better way to get all the things I thought I needed. My friends and I would often discuss what we would do if we had a million dollars while we suffered through our cafeteria lunch. If there was something we desired, we would say we were going to buy it “when Ed calls” referring to Ed McMann, the spokes person for the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
Mysterious man hands me a business card and a cryptic message about someone overhearing my dream and wanting to do something about it. “If you really think you have what it takes to do what you said, be [here] tomorrow morning”