Clad in a colorful wrapper, that luscious bit of chewy bubblegum beckoned me with a siren call. Alas, it was not charm that would draw it to me but only filthy lucre - a princely sum of 25 paise, which I did not have. What it would be to be rich and be able to buy bubblegum whenever you felt like chewing on one?
That about summed up my idea of being rich while at school. To be able to fulfill your wants and needs, as and when they arose; to put your hand in your pocket and not find that the coins in your wallet ran short of the price of what you needed to get. As an adult, I supposed I would still feel the same. My needs may transcend bubblegum but the feeling of being rich would be all about having enough to fulfill my needs and not having to do without things that I wanted.
Of course, it was a totally stupid idea. That stemmed from the fact that I thought that the 'positive' or base form of any adjective was all there was to it. Life, of course, taught me that it was the 'comparative' form that ruled the world. When someone says, "He is rich" about someone else, what he invariably means is that the other person is 'richer than' his own self.
The problem, though, is that we, as a species, specialize at comparing ourselves in a manner that makes us unhappy. We insist on feeling 'poor' by comparing ourselves with those 'richer' than us, except when we wish to make the other person feel unhappy by making him feel 'poorer'. So, we always have a crick in the neck, looking up at people who seem better off than us. So much so, people have to remind us of things like "I felt unhappy about having no shoes, till I saw someone with no feet". Though, I must say, that this urge to compare also seems to drive you to feel happy at other people's misfortunes - and make your contempt for them clear to them - merely to salve your own ego.
And, yes, there is also the climb towards the superlative. 'Richest man in town' etc. Though, since the superlative has been sliced and diced so much, even the 'richest' have other gradations of 'richest' to aspire to - like 'richest man in the country' all the way up to 'richest man in the world'. I suppose I am content with being the 'richest person in my house' and, since I am the sole occupant of my house, that's a cakewalk.
Even the 'positive' version of 'rich' is sullied beyond cleansing. So, if I feel rich when I can get whatever I want, I want all the things that will make me feel 'richer than' the next guy. He has a BMW? I need a Rolls Royce before I feel rich. He goes to Thailand for a vacation? I need to go to Zurich. So, now, you cannot even trust your own needs and wants - whether they arise out of what you feel you will enjoy OR whether you have trained yourself to enjoy only those things that make you feel comparatively richer.
Me? I never grew up. I feel rich because, now, I can buy all the 'bubble-gums' I want AND my tastes have nothing to do with the brand of 'bubblegum'. So, since I do not bother about being 'comparatively' or 'superlatively' rich, I suppose I could call myself 'positively' rich.