I think there are challenges for people when they look at our group and think they’d like to live like we do. The initial impulse I’ve witnessed before is to go buy things that would seem to indicate that one’s now gentrified. This reaction is typical of the middle class or upper middle class. They still express themselves by purchasing things.
On the other hand, we express ourselves frequently through choices, most of which involve restraint and reflect a perspective focused on the long term. These choices appear very calculated to some but are often knee-jerk reactions to us: taking care of yourself, making certain your children get the education they should, having a monthly budget and adhering to it, committing your best efforts to your work or your charitable activities.
These things are so obvious and bone dull that they quickly lose their luster when people are exposed to them. They want a lifestyle guide, interior decorator, or a secret handshake that consecrates them as members of club. There isn’t one.
No offense or disrespect for your book, but it’s just a point of reference. There’s no substitute for two or three generations of hard work, money, education, literacy, and an overriding sense of purpose. Someone has to have the resources, vision, and energy to commit to this.
The most common road to this I’ve seen has been for one spouse to make a sizable amount of money. Sometimes it’s a large fortune, sometimes it’s barely comfortable. It’s not the size as much as the management of it, and the subsequent behavior of the family members going forward. The other spouse focuses on the children and the family life. Do they have manners? Are they working hard in school? Are they dealing with their problems effectively?
One without the other and you miss the mark. It’s not easy to make money and hold on to it. It’s not easy to raise productive children in an affluent environment. It’s not easy to remain modest and anonymous. Conversely, it’s a point of pride with our group when it’s accomplished to a certain degree. It is acknowledged and there is respect given.
I wouldn’t say it’s a comfortable life. It requires discipline and diligence. I read a book recently in which the main character noted that prison was difficult only for those who hadn’t attended an English boarding school. There’s a measure of truth in that, I think, even though I have experienced neither. There is, I will admit, an absence of worry.
It is less emotional in our world. We laugh at more things more often, but I think we cry less often. Depression or self pity is looked upon a some sort of indulgence that really reflects poorly, considering the advantages our group enjoys. “How are you?” as I think you’ve mentioned before, is a greeting, not an inquiry. And don’t try to hug me. We’ll shake hands if you’re a man, or I’ll kiss you on the cheek if you’re a woman and we know each other well.
I’ve rambled. In conclusion, part of the challenge is getting here. There are no shortcuts and there is no assurance of remaining here. Another challenge, I would guess, is to find the motivation for pursuing something with so few visible, material rewards.