Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mo' #Money, Mo' #Problems #thebestofme

Through money or power you cannot solve all problems. The problem in the human heart must be solved first-- The Dalai Lama

A lot of people have said it in a lot of different ways, but it comes down to this: there comes a point when you no longer own possessions, but your possessions own you.

Like most people, I am not insanely wealthy. Not even a little bit wealthy when you hold my student loan debt up to the light, but it seems, nonetheless that I acquire more and more things as the years go on. At 32, I have a house, a car, a dog, a soon-to-be wife-- and all the furniture and accessories that accompany each.

Now, if you are materialistic as I tend to be, you might think--oh but you could have a nicer house, a nicer car, a nicer soon-to-be-wife (you'd be wrong on this account, however, since she is the loveliest creature on the planet) and a better dog (wrong). I could also get a boat, a motorcycle, more clothes or shoes, a riding lawnmover, more, and more and more...

But here is the thing about wealth: it makes us rather lazy and worthless. We no longer learn how to do things for ourselves, we pay others to do them for us. Instead of developing skills, we hand over the opportunity. We no longer spend our free time how we please--we spend it acquiring more things (which I guess that's fine if that's how you'd like to spend your time) or we spend our time taking care of all the things that we've acquired. 

We become a slave to our possessions.  We think I'll own a dog. It'll be great to own a dog. But anyone with a dog knows that the dog owns us. Especially if the dog is a puppy. We arrange our work schedules and our sleep schedules to accommodate potty breaks. We organize our furniture and possessions in a way to prevent chewing and before we know it the dog has impacted OUR behavior far more than we have impacted its behavior and the same is true for possessions. 

Let's consider my dining room table, for example. My dining room table is by far the most expensive possession in my home. It's a very nice table, and cost me thousands of dollars.

Now because it is a table and because we decided to use the nice table rather than preserve it with shrink wrap, it has scratches now. This happens. BECAUSE IT IS A TABLE. (insert any possession here...table, car, clothes, etc). We buy possessions so that we can use them, when they are used they become worn. (Let's leave the expensive Chinese vases out of this example, for now. The puppy is going to knock it over and break it later anyway).

So how much energy did I expend fretting over my table when I first got it? How much polishing? How much research on how to remove scratches? How much shopping for runners and place mats and vaccumming of my fancy cushy chairs--that got dog hair on them because, you know, I also "own" a dog.

Too much time is my conclusion.

Now this is where letting go comes in. Buy the nice things. Sure. If they make you happy. But then it's important to LET GO of my desire to keep them perfect. LET GO of the illusion that somehow they make me "better" as a person--more powerful, more affluent (anything but more ridiculous) when the reality is they weaken me. They distract me, they blur the priorities of my mind--the soon to be wife is my most important love in the world--yet I would yell at her for scratching the table--it's ludicrous and evidence of the power possessions have over me rather than vice versa me.

And maybe you'd say, well Kory you just need to be RICHER. Then you can truly have all the things and not care about them. Okay, let's go all the way to the top. Kory is the first zillionaire. She can buy what she wants and if a table is scratched, no problem! Throw it out! Burn it! Buy  another. But here is the rub. That kind of throw-away consumerism goes against one of my core beliefs and desires for a sustainable planet. It feels the belief that it makes me lazy, wasteful, and not at all powerful.

So bottomline, I've concluded that money does not necessarily make you powerful. In fact, too much can be trouble--as is the case with too little. So, I think it is better to walk the middle way. Do my best to tread lightly on the earth, take as little as I need, and do not for a second believe that more money means more power. 

It is one of the greatest delusions of our time.


  1. I understand completely. once upon a time my family was insanely rich and they were always stressed. When all that money evaporated in one generation, we were extremely poor. Now we are comfortable and happier than ever.
    We are currently downsizing even our somewhat modest living. We are getting rid of our most expensive piece of furniture. We have "owned" a $4000 Microfiber sectional. We have also "leased" 3 children. The sectional was not as durable as the kids. We are replacing it with large pillows. We are comfortable sitting that way and it helps clear the way for our downsizing and move back home. Our oldest begins film school for screenwriting in September so we won't need as much room and our daughter will be going to college in 3 years. We are trading our expensive kitchen table for a cheaper and smaller table with my mom. We don't need a table that large any more and she has plans for ours. Beyond the shredded couch, everything big is going to friends and we will rebuild when we get back home.
    The major advantage is lower moving cost and we don't need to find a place to fit our furniture. We will be keeping my bookshelves because duh books... We will be keeping the TV and electronics because my wife loves TV and movies the way I love books.

    1. Yes, I just feel better in general when I don't have too much stuff cluttering up my life! :) Thanks for commenting CC :)