The Matter of Money

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Making Sense 

 

A number of years ago, I spent nearly twelve months living in a Northern Brazilian town. The experience showed me how little I knew about culture, relationships, and point of view on the world.

One thing I was never able to overcome was how people there saw me as a ‘first world’ person. Just when I thought I was building relationships based on equality, my new-found friends would remind me that I was from a rich country while they were from a place they saw as far poorer and less organized. It drove me crazy, what difference should that make to our friendship?

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba, a society unlike any other. One conversation I had with a young man working in a restaurant made me stop and take notice. We talked of the high level of education Cuban citizens possess, the strong culture and human warmth of the people. And then this gentleman said to me, “None of that is of any value to me when I can’t put enough food on the table to feed my family.” He spoke of the frustration of knowing so much and working so hard, yet not having the opportunity to use his skills to build a career or make enough money to even meet his basic needs.

And now, I look around me at the affluence of our city- the neighbourhoods of McMansions, Lexuses in the driveways, motor homes in storage yards, money thrown away on fancy clothes and extravagant parties, and I simply do not understand money. How is it that those who don’t have it want it, those who have it flaunt it, and those who wish it didn’t matter can never get away from its influence?

 Image source

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Happiness Is…

I pick up the Hallmark card on the stand in front of me. “Happiness Is…” reads the front. I open the card. “…a puppy peeing in clover.”

Mental note- don’t look to Hallmark for life wisdom.

I carry on looking for a card for my grandparents’ sixtieth anniversary, but the phrase sticks with me, “Happiness Is…”. How would I finish that sentence?  

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27 Comments

Filed under Creativity, Writing

27 responses to “The Matter of Money

  1. V

    OOooooo I get to be the first to leave a comment.

    Your comments on money and happiness I think go hand in hand anywhere in the world. Yet I don’t know if it’s money per se that we are after. I think it’s the BELIEF that if I have a lot of money, life would be easy, or easier. And I have no idea where that belief comes from.

    That being said, I often struggle with that belief. Thinking that if I made a little more then I could have better …… (fill in the blank). And for what purpose?? To make my life easier.

    It’s the human condition to run away from hardship and/or suffering.

    I don’t remember anyone telling me life is supposed to be easy.

    • You’re right- there are the two sides, wanting money in order to have more comfort, and wanting it in order to avoid suffering. The possibility of not having enough to live on, or even not having enough to live a ‘comfortable’ life is hard to struggle with. Most of us rely on a steady stream of income to continually buy what we need to survive and live out life. We don’t know what the future holds, so the uncertainty is always there. It’s a hard part of being human, we never know what’s around the corner. Then again, lots of good things await there too- that’s a consolation to us as we continue along the way.

  2. It’s truly unfortunate.
    But it’s true.
    It like the cliche, money can’t buy love.
    It cant but there is no end to what money can buy.
    We should share the wealth, if only the rich would do so

    • We are all rich in some way or another- not necessarily financially, so all have something to share with others. Which doesn’t take away from saying that it sure would be great if some financially rich person gave you enough money to realize your vision of taking your art show on the road 🙂

  3. Those are big questions to weigh on one’s mind. Huge, really. How can we pull ourselves out of our own lifelong experience, which involves the need for money in order to feel secure and safe, because only then can we pursue happiness? How can we imagine a life where money is not part of that equation? And how do we erase all the messages around us about happiness, in order to finish the sentence “Happiness is…” on our own terms? I don’t know the answers, but I do believe they are questions worth pondering.

    • The differences between generations in money and security play into this too, I think. Previous generations relied on working hard at a steady job for a good pension. Then companies were no longer able to offer these deals and laid people off before their eligibility for those great pensions. Now our generation and the one after us is looking at money and security differently- there is far less security offered through money these days. Maybe there’s a good side to this, in that our generation has a better chance of looking for happiness in a direction other than money…

  4. Happiness is . . . the goal behind all goals. ~ The Dalai Lama

    The poor seek comfort and happiness through riches; the rich seek comfort and happiness through possessions; the wise seek comfort and happiness within.

    Wonderful posts, Zoe.

  5. Terrific post! The connection between happiness and money… Happiness is the journey of finding out what you’re supposed to be doing with your life and then going out and doing it. Money doesn’t buy happiness but it sure helps to ease the burden of the journey.

    • “the journey of finding out what you’re supposed to be doing with your life…”- nicely said. We do each have a part to play in the larger Story at any given point in time. When we’re playing our part, there’s almost an audible ‘click’ to signify the pieces falling into the right places. Beautiful moments, these.
      Thanks for joining the conversation with your well said points. I’m off to check out your site in a few minutes.

  6. Brilliant post, Zoe, and that sentence of yours “those who wish it didn’t matter can never get away from its influence” is one I have never heard before, and one which resonates with such strength. We are born in this place; fate, or God, chooses our situation for who we are. This challenge is one of the hardest I face. How do I move out from under the influence of money?
    This is connected, for me, to something someone said and I’m not sure I can put the connection into words: St Augustine’s prayer: Lord, Make me chaste, but not yet. We sit here and the siren influence lulls us so we do not wish to move. Lord, move me out from the influence of money: but not yet….

    • So interesting…:
      There’s a conversation that somehow keeps repeating itself in my life with various people. Someone will say to me, “I’d really love to… but I can’t.” And I say to them, “Really? Sure you can, it’s just that you are choosing not to because of your priorities.” For example, someone will say that they really want to move to another city but they can’t because they have such a great job in this one. Well, sure they could move to that other city, people do it all the time. They would rather hang onto their great job than live there. It’s a matter of realizing that we have choices (like Paula says) and we are choosing not to go one way because we want something else more. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I like this way of thinking better, because it puts us back in control of making choices rather than wishing for something we say we can’t have.
      And as I write these words, I realize that this is also a conversation that I keep having with myself. 🙂

  7. Happy times come and go. Contentment is experiencing peace and gratitude in whatever comes our way. When we seek happiness, it becomes an illusive butterfly just out of reach. Contentment is the ability to enjoy the journey, trusting that there is a purpose and a destination. We should have goals and aspirations, but living the moment, squeezing the good out of each one, is contentment. Walking through a dark valley puts contentment to the test and crushes happiness. Who can explain all of life? Not I.

    Money. It’s a means to an end. It’s a tool not to be abused. A fiduciary responsibility for which we may someday give account to our Maker. I’d rather have money than not. There is a verse in the Bible in Proverbs that says, in essence, that too little and too much are both handicaps to living right.

    Thank you for another great post that really makes people think. I needed to think these thoughts today. I lifted something wrong and have insulted my sciatic nerve. The last time I hurt it was many years ago and the siege lasted several weeks. Why me, Lord? I’ve quit asking that question. Why not me, Lord? Why not? Now you have to carry me. 🙂

  8. I hope your sciatic nerve forgives you for the insult. Ouch!
    “…too little and too much are both handicaps to living right” good point from a ‘Good Book’ 🙂 This can be said of so many things. I tend to be one who goes to extremes on whatever spectrum, so this is a good reminder for me- thanks!

  9. As a country doc I figured I couldn’t get rich or starve to death either one, so I just lived, and never made money a priority. I was in a profession that paid pretty well, though I was what they called a “low end provider.” One consultant told me I “spent too much time with my patients and not enough time ordering unnecessary tests.”

    I am at the end of my career now, and while we didn’t become wealthy, I’m certain we aren’t gonna miss a meal. It’s strange though. It might sound “Un-American,” but I’m glad we took the middle ground, and have no regrets that most people in my profession made more money. We had enough for a house, and to educate our children. There were more books than we could read, and all of us got to play a lot of music. I guess it all comes down to how you define wealth, but I don’t see that we missed anything.

    Dr. B

    • Paula talks about the concept of having enough- and your words show that you are living it, and have found contentment. What a fantastic attitude.
      Not being in the States, your comment about taking the middle ground being un-American intruiges me. Is it really true that the Amreican mindset is about getting the most you can? Yikes. That’s a little frightening.

      • Sadly, the prevailing mindset in the States is to earn as much as you can as fast as you can.

        People actually wondered how I could even consider leaving the practice of law . . . because of the money involved. The fact that I was not Happy (captial “H”) made no different to them in their evaluation that I was making a big mistake.

      • Given your level of Happiness, it’s obvious you made no mistake. Score one point for courage!

  10. Pingback: Cultivating Happiness, Not Hedonism « Spirit Lights The Way

  11. Chloe

    Happiness is seeing joy on other peoples’ faces…

    I really enjoyed this post about money and am impressed that you have travelled to some amazing places. Travelling to other countries can really alter our perspective on so many things, especially when we see poverty at every turn we make. I was once in Beijing (only for a week), and the extent of poverty hit me so hard – for some normality, for others just totally desperate and sad. Why is the world so unbalanced in so many ways??

    I love your final words ” How is it that those who don’t have it want it, those who have it flaunt it, and those who wish it didn’t matter can never get away from its influence?” – so very true xx

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