“This is your first dollar bill”

Last week a cousin* visited prior to eye surgery in the District and made an interesting observation about where the husband and I are in our lives right now.

“This is your first dollar bill,” he told us. And then explained.


The summer following his military officer training involved a cross-country trip in an SUV with 250,000 miles on it, no a/c, his wife and two small children, chocolate ice cream as the go-to cooling mechanism for the wee passengers, and a family of four in a single hotel room for the summer months; this is was what he calls their first dollar bill.

The first dollar bill earned by a business is a turning point, a sign of what’s to come. It’s the symbol of hard work starting to pay off and a paper-thin hope for the future.

It’s hard work to get there and to go from there. Things were probably more secure, easier, and familiar yesterday when that dollar was in someone else’s wallet. The risk of a new venture is huge, but so, too, the reward. The first dollar bill is the first moment in the balance of make-it-or-break-it that the scale is tips in your favor.

The first dollar bill is the point of no return.

We have faith that the only direction from here is up, but we’re happy with where we are and are in no rush. The first dollar bill is on the wall; the rest will come in God’s time. The first dollar bill is good enough for us but we know this is only where it begins, not where it maxes out.

A successful venture always looks back fondly on the first dollar bill, knowing what it represented and what it started.

We traded a comfortable, familiar, secure life in a simple city for a new, strange life and unlimited opportunities in a very complicated city and a home the size of a bathtub. And no way would we trade back, because no partnership worth its salt trades that first dollar bill.

Although most businesses do have a wall big enough to mount it on.

"Christmas can never go by without my remembering a certain little cat."

* One year all the cousins on the dad’s side of the family drew names for Christmas gifts. This cousin drew my name and gave me a copy of James Herriot‘s The Christmas Day Kitten. I loved it then and twenty years later it is still one of my favorite books, most prized possessions, and beloved Christmas gifts ever.


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