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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Money Thing

I've always had a strange relationship with money. Not only have I long felt like I was courting a lover who really didn't have much interest in being with me, but I felt on some level that money might be an EVIL lover. I didn't care, but I felt guilty for wanting it, anyway. After years of this awkward dance, I've realized that money wasn't really a thing with a life or an intention of its own, but instead a means to an end. It is only as good or evil as its holder, and only as illusive as we think it might be. Yeah, okay. Still working on that last part.

I have seen money used as both a carrot AND a stick. I have seen it used to artificially propel people into positions of power they didn't deserve. I have seen people use it to control others, to amass great quantities of 'stuff', to create a competitive advantage over those who had less. I have seen it withheld as a punishment, and have seen the acquisition of it prioritized over people and the living of life. It's no shocker at all that I see the evil side of money, and no surprise that I have had such mixed feelings about it for so much of my life. None of the usual reasons for acquiring money held much appeal for me, so I didn't really see the point of trying to amass wealth.

Years ago I had friends who tried to hook me into a multi-tiered marketing 'thing' that they were Very Excited about. They were pretty vague about the details for awhile, but ultimately told me the name of the company (I won't say who, but it rhymes with Bamway) when they realized I wouldn't listen to anything they had to say until they did. They asked me if I had time after work to go for a ride with them one day, and I reluctantly agreed to go despite the fact that they refused to tell me what it was about (these were friends, remember). After a couple of exhausting (and utterly confusing) hours of going to car dealerships, high-end clothing stores, furniture outlets and the like, they informed me I had been on a "dream quest", and that if I joined their company I could have all the beautiful things I just saw. All I had to do is pay some amount of money, use some products (sorry, this part was all vague) get friends to join and then PROFIT, and OMG, how exciting was that?! I never laughed so hard in my life. I said "Are you kidding me? WHO'S dream? I don't give a flying F*** about any of that crap! Have we MET?" followed by "Can I PLEASE go home now?" Seriously, anyone who knows me on even the most basic level HAS to know that anything that involves needing some type of disposable income AND the ability to sell stuff on the phone or in person (no online back then) was never, ever going to happen. And the way they came at me couldn't have been more wrong! They were trying to appeal to a sense of greed that I didn't have. If they had taken me to a warmblood horse farm, they may have gotten further, but probably not much :-) All that stuff remind me of South Park's "Underpants gnomes profit plan":

Either they were continuing to be intentionally vague, I was exceptionally obtuse or they didn't really know how it worked, either. In any case, I was not then and am not now interested in earning my money in a way that depends on what somebody else earns. It just feels icky to me.

Having said that, I have grown to see the very happy and uplifting side of money. I have come to understand that money can mean many genuinely good things. It can change and improve peoples lives, it can help the Earth become a healthier place, it can provide stability, help a family member or friend in a time of need and it can help someone go from a complete nobody to the person who eventually cures cancer. Money can be a blessed and beautiful thing, and it feels like it should be shared. I think its only ugly and evil when its hoarded and guarded over by the hunched gargoyle of greed and self-importance. Inviting resources into your life doesn't have to mean inviting the gargoyle. The two things are entirely separate events! What an astounding and liberating discovery that is! And lets be clear here, it was my own potential gargoyle that I feared. I have friends with lots of money who aren't the least bit greedy so I know it's possible.

But knowing and feeling aren't always the same thing. Now, I can keep some room available on my dance card for money, and not feel anything but good about it :-)

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