by What would you be willing to do in order to inherit one billion dollars? Jason Stevens is about to find out…” a novel and movie by Jim Stoval
If money touches every part of our life, then to understand money is to understand the purpose of life.
This delightful novel and movie by Jim Stoval shows the risks of money excess in the context of the reading of the last will and testament of a billionaire: Jason’s grandfather, Red Stevens.
How do we learn lessons? How do we transform into something larger than ourselves? These are important questions. And only when we feel, when we care, when we experience compassion for others, can a transformation happen.
The greed, the selfishness, the narrow-minded thinking of Jason’s family, comes to life in this movie, starring James Gardner who plays the role of Red Stevens, the recently deceased billionaire.
The only hope is his grandson, Jason Stevens. Jason, a trust fund child, was born with a silver spoon. He never worked a day in his life. Yet his grandfather saw something in him. Some glimmer of hope that his grandson could learn how to live a meaningful life.
So he gave Jason a challenge, a series of tests that he had to pass to receive each gift, leading up to the Ultimate Gift. Each gift was designed to develop his character:
The Gift of Work- He who loves his work never labors.
- The Gift of Money- Money is nothing more than a tool. It can be a force for good, a force for evil, or simply be idle.
- The Gift of Friends- It is a wealthy person, indeed, who calculates riches not in gold but in friends.
- The Gift of Learning-Education is a lifelong journey whose destination expands as you travel.
- The Gift of Family- Some people are born into wonderful families. Others have to find or create them. Being a member of a family is a priceless privilege which costs nothing but love.
- The Gift of Problems- Problems can only be avoided by exercising good judgment. Good judgment can only be gained by experiencing life’s problems.
- The Gift of Laughter-Laughter is good medicine for the soul. Our world is desperately in need of more such medicine.
- The Gift of Dreams- Faith is all that dreamers need to see into the future.
- The Gift of Giving-The only way you can truly get more out of life for yourself is to give part of yourself away.
- The Gift of Gratitude- In those times when we yearn to have more in our lives, we should dwell on the things we already have. In doing so, we will often find that our lives are already full to overflowing.
- The Gift of a Day-Life at its essence boils down to one day at a time. Today is the day!
- The Gift of Love-Love is a treasure for which we can never pay. The only way we keep it is to give it away.
- The Ultimate Gift- In the end, life lived to its fullest is its own ultimate gift.
At the beginning of his journey, Jason befriends Emily, a young girl with terminal leukemia. Interacting with her forces him to confront his own selfishness; throughout the movie, Emily acts as the catalyst for his transformation.
In the end, Jason discovers that the ultimate gift is something much more valuable than money.
Though he has lived his life selfishly, his priorities drastically shift. He is transformed from a shallow, aimless guy, to a generous man whose dream is to help others fulfill their dreams.
So what does this really mean? We can’t take our money with us, only our merits. Only the impact we have on others.
Things like family, love, laughter, and even the lessons hardships can teach us are intangible, but they are what really matter. A life well lived. That is the real ultimate gift.
Written by Jaimie Blackman
President and founder of BH Wealth Management, financial wealth management firm in New York.