My Changing Relationship To Money

Posted: October 9, 2010 in playa economics

It used to be that I spent money for the feel of it.

When I spent money, it was with a vicious thrill. I felt shameful, as if I was squandering a precious resource. I felt an emotional ripple with every dollar I parted with. When I made large, unplanned purchases, I felt an intense rush. Sometimes, I felt depressed.

I was afraid of not having enough money, so I hoarded it. I imagined larger and larger sums of money in my bank account, and got excited for the lifestyle it would allow me to life. Exotic travel, super-premium brands, yachts. Security. A future for my family. Privilege. Opportunity. Power.

Two weeks ago I burned a dollar outside of a dive bar with two close friends. I did it to symbolize what money has become to me now: an empty prop for a vacant society. Our money, purely symbolic now, is bereft of any richness. It is void, a meaningless symbol, ready for projection. Money is whatever you think it is. It is nothing at all.

I feel nothing when I spend money now. I could be giving away stacks of dollar bills, and I would feel nothing. I have done this, and felt nothing. How much money is in my bank account? “Enough”. There is enough for me to go to the grocery store and not worry. That is what “enough” means. I can spend my nights typing missives on the poverty of the current age with a full belly, and that means I have “enough” money.

Enough to what? Enough to eat. Enough to enable leisure. Enough to think. My survival is not my constant concern, and so I find my relationship to money drifting increasingly into the abstract.

Being fed does not require money; it only requires others to give me food. Being loved does not require money; it only requires others to love me. Being cared for does not require money; it only requires caring souls. Being secure does not require money; it only requires peace of mind. What is required to live the good life is not money, but other people.

The drifters on the street survive off the fat of the land, from the pity of strangers. Their currency is forbearance. The screaming bum on the street corner who makes passing women afraid is not surviving because he has any money; he is surviving because the community does not deem him enough of a threat to eliminate him. He makes his home in the mildewing of society’s apathy. Addressing his plight would force us all to look at the cracks in the system we uphold; so we ignore him. Unless he really hurts someone.

Spending my money means nothing now. Oh, I still pick and choose the goods and services I purchase with it, shrewdly calculating maximum value and return, because I now see a better use for it — the establishment of a place I could live, and be free. I want to be happy, and thrive — and I suspect money will be necessary to create the conditions where those things can come to fruition. I want to be a good steward of the “wealth” I have already created for myself, but at the same time, I have seen how easy it is to create this “wealth” from thin air.

I had a dream. In my dream I am traveling into New York City. It is early morning, and I stop at a coffee shop at the top of a tall tower on the outskirts of the city. I order coffee and breakfast. I have with me a tightly-bound stack of brand new $100 bills. I am glad to have so much money, because I know New York is an expensive city; but at the same time, I have a huge moment of release. I am not worried about money at all, anymore. I know I have cracked the code. I know how to create the money from thin air, as much or as a little as I need, when I need it. There’s no reason to worry anymore. I will have whatever I need.

It’s a wonderful feeling.



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