Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Still something to take with ya’


Whilst cleaning the garage, son No. 1 found an old column I had written for the Finder. Either of my loyal readers might recall that the title of my column back in 1985 was “Something to Take With Ya.”

In addition, both of my loyal readers will attest that I seem to have a propensity to say the same thing over and over since 1976, when I started writing these things. So as affirmation, I figured I’d show ya what I said back in 1985 … here goes.

“Dad,” Ben inquired one day, “How much are you worth?” “Not much,” was my first thought but before I could respond my 6-year-old son continued, “You know, each of us is worth more than all the money in the world.”

“Yes, that’s a good point Ben,” was all I could respond with as he continued, “So how come money is so important to some people, Dad?”


By the time my brain quit fumbling for an answer that I thought a 6-year-old would comprehend, he was distracted by something else.

Boy, if the questions are tough at this age, what am I gonna do when he gets serious about stuff (trust me, over the ensuing decades all of my kids became quite good at stumping me).

It was very astute of a 6-year-old to note how revered we have made the great American dollar. We all seem to calculate our worth in terms of dollars and cents. For some odd reason, we measure success in terms of how many tangible products we possess. The more you have, the more successful you are, yet we get to take none of that stuff with us when our time draws to a close.

The problem is that in our haste to collect our success tokens we forget that people are, indeed, more important than money. People invented money, not the other way around. Money was invented to create a process of exchange for services rendered that allows each of us to pursue and contribute whatever talents we possess to our social order.

Somehow we lost track, because money became more important than people. How unfortunate for those who believe that we will be measured by what we contribute to ourselves instead of what we do for others … it’s my belief that our worth is the other way around: What you do for the world around you far exceeds what you do for yourself.

How much are you worth? More than all the tea in China, more than can be counted … You are child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. You are a gift to us all to be appreciated for what you are … you are the essence of life, a spark passing through space on your way to another place and all you get to take with you is what you know … safe travels to ya.

So that’s the way it was back in ’85, and come to think of it, my opinion really hasn’t changed much since … here’s hoping that you get to wherever you’re s’posed to be.

P.S. – Someone tell Bob Kupper that I apologize for blaming his shop for my dead battery when I should have called the guy who made the battery for my Silverado (for the record, I left nothing on)… I was on a roll and should have proofed what I had to say … oops!