85. Jay-Jay


On a recent trip to Amsterdam I ran, quite literally, into an American expat called Jay-Jay. We chatted for quite some time, both aware that his ulterior motive was to ask me for a small euro gift, and he told me of his incredible life. I wanted to share this with you, in a bid to prove that life experience is far more valuable than money (although I wouldn’t recommend choosing his forced empoverished existence). 

5 facts about Jay-Jay: 

1) Jay-Jay fought in Nam. He told me that the experiences he had there were tough to ratify in his mind. 

2) After NAM, Jay-Jay worked for a major computing firm and quickly rose the ranks. He lived comfortably for a while and married. 

3) Jay-Jay became increasingly unable to cope with the work, being haunted by his past, and eventually suffered a complete mental breakdown. 

4) He entered a mental institution and his marriage fell apart. He was made destitute, as his funds dwindled paying for medical costs. 

5) He used the last of his money to relocate to Amsterdam, a city he had loved in his youth, and settled into an empoverished existence. 

After a significant amount of time listening to his fascinating life it was time to move on. My last comment to Jay-Jay made him smile, shout ‘You got it’ and fist bump me. I simply said: 

‘You may not be the richest man in the world when it comes to money, but your life experience is wealth enough. I would rather be poor and have had an incredible journey, than lived rich without having to fight for anything’ 

I then gave him 2 euros. 

(Photo – Eli Woodbine, Amsterdam, 2016) 


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