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I’d Rather Have the Guinness

Given the economic uncertainty of our time, it may be helpful to take a step back and gain a broader perspective.

Much of the concern being expressed today over the rising cost of living and the shrinking dollar has more to do with how they impact our ability to enjoy our favorite material pursuits and less to do with our ability to survive.

It brings to mind a tale from beloved British storyteller and veterinarian James Herriot in which he described a particular day in which his work took him from one economic extreme to the other.

Early in the day he was called to tend to the dog of a man who had made a fortune as a shipping magnate.

Herriot recounts how he marveled at the beauty of the man’s estate with its immaculate grounds, marble floors and the finest luxuries money could buy.

But even the palatial surroundings could not disguise the sneering contempt with which the man’s pampered wife and daughter treated him as they left the mansion to go shopping.

As he took his leave, Herriot related the impression he had of how lonely and powerless this captain of industry appeared in the midst of all his finery.

Later that day, Herriot’s rounds took him to the far reaches of the county to a hard-scrabble farm atop a windy hillside where a tired old farmer in threadbare clothing labored tirelessly to meet his family’s daily needs.

As Herriot was preparing to leave, he noticed the farmer’s sixteen-year-old daughter stealthily wheeling a bicycle toward the gates and asked where she was headed.

She replied that since her father had been up all night tending to a sick animal, she was going to ride into town to purchase a pint of Guinness as a surprise for him.

What made this noteworthy in Herriot’s mind was the fact that she was about to undertake a sixteen-mile round trip in cold weather on a bike for the sole purpose of bringing a smile to her father’s face.

Upon completing his work that day, Herriot wrote of how the stark contrast of the two homes kept returning to his mind.

One family possessed enough trappings of material wealth to inspire jealousy in a king but lacked any sense of real concern for one another.

The other family struggled for existence in the most humble of circumstances yet possessed sufficient regard for each other that they were willing to give abundantly of themselves.

Herriot wrote that after carefully contemplating the two situations he came to the conclusion that, “All things considered, I’d rather have the Guinness.”

As desirable as luxury and opulence may be, they have never been the sole determinant of real happiness or fulfillment in life.

If economic circumstances require a tightening of our belts, it’s still entirely possible to find lasting joy in those things which have always been worth more in the long run.


bryanhyde1Bryan Hyde is a radio host, husband, father, graduate student at George Wythe University, and seeker of truth. He does professional voice work through his company One Clear Voice.

Bryan blogs at The White Rose Society and writes firearm reviews for The Truth About Guns. He and his wife Becky are raising their six children in Cedar City, Utah.

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