Money, per se, doesn’t interest me much. I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday, not because I was taking some kind of ideological stand, but because there was nothing I wanted or needed.
There have been times in my life when money was in short supply; there have been times when it was relatively plentiful. Now it is neither of those things. I live a frugal but comfortable life. I earn considerably less than £100 a week, but that pays for food and occasional outings. I get a pension which covers the household bills. Money comes in and goes out and it isn’t an issue for me.
I am concentrating on it now, not because I want it, but because I’m still trying to work out what it IS, exactly. It seems important to know.
The closest thing I can think of to money is water.
While it flows freely, as mine does, it’s fine.
When it starts to build up, it gets stagnant, leaves a bad smell and causes problems. People tend to get rather obsessed with it at that point.
Too little money – like a drought – often leads to dreadful suffering.
A sudden influx of money is also – like a flash flood – potentially dangerous. I once met a man in his early forties who told me he was in the ‘fortunate position’ of not having to work. It turned out he’d had a large cash settlement as a result of a workplace injury and was living off that. When I heard of him some years later, he’d become an alcoholic, through sheer boredom and lack of focus. The money was gone, yet he was in no fit state to look for work. Obviously I’m not saying the money caused his problems, but he’s not alone in having failed to cope well with sudden wealth. There are many stories of sports and music stars, for example, whose lives have taken a similar turn.
So to round off my analogy, money – like water – is essential for life, yet potentially deadly. Is it, in the way our world has developed, a form of energy? As we all know, energy needs to be kept moving if it is to benefit anyone. Is that the way money works?
I can easily think of ways to give £10 or £100 which would bring great pleasure and benefit to others and make me feel good, too. If I had £100,000 or a million or two to dispose of, though, it becomes more complicated. How would I decide on the ‘best’ way to use it? Who or what ‘needs’ it the most? How would I compare charities or research projects with one another?
You may say this is idle musing, since I don’t have anything like that sort of cash, but some inner compulsion is driving me to wonder how we can make money work properly. I feel there’s a way to allow it to flow so effortlessly that – like Tesla’s energy coils – it just keeps going. I’m imagining some project – or maybe even a society – in which, once it’s been set up, the wealth becomes self-perpetuating. No one takes more than they need; everyone has enough, and there’s always more being generated. It doesn’t involve exploitation of people, animals or the planet. It feels possible – close, even…
Once I’ve figured it out, I’ll start playing the lottery, maybe.