Here I go again, it’s a weekend and my wallet’s empty. I’d like to blame the stars, or the lines in my palm. Money flows. Like water. In then out. And I can’t grasp them. Don’t issue me a credit card. I’ll shred those. That or I’ll drown myself in debt. Ask me to balance my checkbook and I’d give you a blank stare. Actually, let me issue you a blank check instead.
I’m not into Birkins or Jimmy Choos and a diamond’s not my best friend. I expect to be mindful of what I buy. Yet, parade around an Ikat pillow, a hand-woven basket, lapis lazuli on charm bracelet, and my wallet magically empties itself. In spite of curbing purchases to the essential, my essential list is humongous. I am still stuck in the consumer culture. These days though, I buy artisan, vintage or organic.
Only, it’s not just the spending. I don’t know how to earn as well. I work almost completely pro bono. I even feel guilty asking for money owed or inherited. I have epitomized “starving artist,” guilt-ridden when putting value for the work I do. How do I ever expect to earn a living with my work? Somehow, I am perfectly happy if someone else worried about putting food on the table.
Someone once posed a question: “How do you see money?” I answered with a blank stare. It was not polite to talk about money at home. You don’t ask about prices or haggle. When you do, you can’t afford it. You’re meant to think, feel and act like all is well in wealth. And the second anyone brought money up, the illusion of it would shatter like glass.
I also grew up during the glory days of the Negros sugar barons. Money flowed. Like water. In then out. We could not grasp them. Everyone was the son or daughter of a haciendero. Parents stayed at home. You don’t see them toiling for hard cash. There were generations of tenants who would do that instead. Sometimes, our parents would look busy: once a year; during the milling season. The rest of year was spent holding banquets, so they could show off wares.
Throw into that equation, the notion that money is the root of all evil, and thus, outside of sacred work. You don’t want to taint your clean soul with dirty money. Thus, you’re in a constant tug between your purposeful path and the need for bread. And “starving artist” is what you will be. That, or just give money away. Because enriching oneself is incompatible with the ideal of loving another as yourself.
It is among our marriage woes. Tightwad and simple marries pampered, lover of fine things, but won’t work Ilonggo. You thought it would be simpler. Walk down the aisle. Sweep money differences under the carpet. Love and the promise of ever after somehow eclipsed the glaring money differences. And besotted girl, with that ring on her finger, said a lifelong yes to, for better or for worse, merge debt, commingle property, and consolidate spending. Your hands are tied. Together. I said yes to that?
“Money itself isn’t the problem. Money itself isn’t bad or good. Money itself doesn’t have power or not have the power. It is our interpretation of money, our interaction with it, where the real mischief is and where we find the real opportunity for self-discovery and personal transformation.” –Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money
There are subtle ways that money plays out in all of our relationships. It is confusing, conflicted and often destructive. And yet, it is astounding how little thought we give it. Or that we don’t talk about it, especially in our most intimate relationships. How we see money and the control it wields over us, are two sides of the same coin.
I have a complicated relationship with money than I let on. This seemingly flimsy piece of paper holds quite a grip on me. And because I fear it so, I’ve swept it under the carpet. So I stall balancing checkbooks or writing down expenses, afraid I’ve over expended. Hold off budgets, just because I don’t want to feel controlled. And I still won’t talk about it. Do I sell myself short? How do you take money in hand, in happy-ever-after? “We need to talk” should include the money talk. Somehow, this is an inventory I have to make. Begin with simply tracking what I buy in a day. Bring the questions swept under the carpet to light. Or even, just stop the crazed habit of writing out blank checks.
Money is a current, a carrier, a conduit for our intentions. Money carries the imprimatur of our soul. – Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money