Tony Tolbert, of UCLA School of Law, is shown outside of the home he has been letting families live in rent free.
When Tony Tolbert
turned 50 last year, he
marked the occasion by moving in with his
The decision wasn't about money.
He's a Harvard-educated attorney, on the staff of UCLA's law school.
And it wasn't because his
mother wanted or needed him home.
It was Tolbert's response to the sort of midlife milestone that prompts us to take stock.
Instead of buying a sports car, he
decided to turn his
home - rent free - over to strangers.
"It just struck me how powerful a gesture that was," Tolbert
first shared his
story with me, he
wanted me to write about it but not name him.
didn't want publicity.
just hoped that, since he'd gotten the idea from something he'd read, maybe someone reading my column would be inspired to ... do what?
left the good furniture for the woman who moved in.
didn't hide his
grandmother's heirloom quilt or put away the fine art.
"I told her
straight out, this is my home.
I'm leaving these things for you to enjoy.
I want you to be comfortable here."
That was a learning process for Tolbert
: "It was a good exercise in not grasping and hanging on to stuff.... Short of them burning the house down, I had to accept that whatever they tear up, it can also be repaired."
had to accept that generosity and gratitude aren't always a matched pair.
, you are awesome!