Am I where I want to be?

Yesterday someone sent me an email.  If the photo the sender attached was to be believed, it was a smart, squeaky-clean young American.  He told me I’d been accepted as a member of an organisation called the Association of Spiritual Writers or some such.  Can’t remember the exact wording, as I deleted it pretty quick.

For a start, I hadn’t applied to join any such group.  For an end, he quickly moved into an unabashed sales patter, telling me that in order to get top price ticket sales at my talks, I needed to enrol on his training course, which would maximise my earnings.

Sorry to disappoint you, young Sir, but I have not the slightest interest in making money from spiritual writing or talking.  Sharing ideas, having dialogues, learning and discovering, yes – those things are hugely important to me, but that’s where it stops.

It made me think, though.  Do I have what I want now, in the autumn of my life?  And the answer seems to be that yes, I do.

I own a very small, sweet, though slightly damp and crumbly, old cottage in a beautiful part of England.  I get enough money from my pension to pay the bills and live each month and although I don’t run a car, have expensive holidays or buy luxury items, I have all I need to be comfortable and to give a little to charities I care about.

I still do some private tutoring, charging less by the hour than I pay a handyman to chop and stack my logs.  I’m fine with that, too.  I do it because teaching was my first love and I enjoy keeping contact with it and helping children who would otherwise be struggling.

I spend vast amounts of time making 1/12 scale miniature figures and room settings by upcycling mass produced and junk items.  It’s a brilliant hobby for me.  I can be creative, inventive and gloriously messy.  It involves constant problem-solving that keeps my mind active.
People say, “You must have such patience,” but for me it’s a kind of meditation.  I do my deepest meditating when I’m hand-stitching a minuscule white shirt or sticking tiny tufts of hair on to a wig base.
I display and sell the fruits of my labour at craft sales, get smiles and lovely comments and have fascinating conversations all day.  I make modest amounts of money – which I pass on to my son and his partner, as they are saving up for a deposit on their first home.

Strangely, at almost every sale I’m approached by some smartly dressed young man who eagerly tells me how I could make masses more money from my crafting by doing this on Instagram or that on You Tube.  I smile, thank them politely and carry on doing what I do.

I’ll happily trade the lack of stress, deadlines and problems for the lack of wealth and material goods.  I’m happy, I’m still learning every day and I have a wonderful life.

 

 

 

Still with the money

Money, Coins, Euro Coins, Currency, EuroMoney, 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.

Sunrise, Dramatic Sky, SeascapeThe 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?

Money, Grow, Interest, Save, InvestYou 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.

 

What Price?

Money, Dollars, Success, BusinessThis has been puzzling me.  Maybe you can help me work it out….

I’m not even going to touch on the conspiracy theories or give any opinion on the character or behaviour of either of the protagonists here, because that’s not what interests me.  What I want to figure out is the part money plays in the story.  (Also I know it is far more complicated than I’m making it.  I just want to solve my puzzle.)

Once upon a time there were two men (as I understand the story) who were developing electricity in amazing new ways, so that it would be available to all.

Thomas Alva Edison, Inventor, 1922One was called Thomas Edison.  He was a smart, hard-headed businessman as well as a brilliant innovator.  He needed investors in order to develop his amazing stuff.

The other was called Nikola Tesla.  He was clueless with money and no good at working with people but also a brilliant innovator.  He too needed investors, for exactly the same reason.

Edison wanted to develop a business empire, selling electricity and electrical products to people.

Tesla wanted to develop free electricity, so that no one would have to buy it ever again.  He’d worked out a way of doing that.

So let’s imagine you were an astute investor, back then, with lots of money in your pocket.  Which of these men would you invest in?

It’s not a hard choice to make, is it?  Edison wins hands down, because his investors will get great returns as everyone clamours to buy his products.  Tesla doesn’t stand a chance.  You invest in his company and you get free electricity forever – but so do all the other people: the ones who didn’t invest anything.  There’s no profit to be had in something that is free.

That means the world is stuck with power stations that run on fossil fuels or nuclear power, and we are all still having to pay for our power – as is the planet.

Flash, Tesla Coil, ExperimentNow let’s imagine an alternative universe in which the investors all went for Tesla’s ideas.

No one owns electricity.  It’s as free as the air we breathe, even in places where people struggle to survive.  There are no bunkers full of nuclear waste that can’t be safely disposed of, no pollution in the seas around Japan, no coal or oil-fired power stations belching out fumes.  Suddenly electricity is not a commodity. It isn’t bought and sold.  You can’t own shares in it.   You can’t wage wars over the fossil fuels to power it or build pipelines where you shouldn’t.  It’s simply energy, like a thunderstorm or a forest fire.

We live in different times now.  What if crowdfunding had existed back then?  Ordinary people hand over their money to pay for some kid’s operation or to refurbish a hostel they will never see.  In my tiny country £46.6 million was raised in one night last week for Children In Need.  Billionaire stars turn philanthropist and give away their fortunes.

If Tesla were here now, asking for investors, would he find them?

Light Bulb, Idea, Light, Dim, Bright, OnSo this is my puzzle:

Have we changed, in those few short years since Edison won his battle?

Is the pursuit of money, ever so slightly, losing it’s grip?

Are we treating it more, now, like energy, allowing it to flow freely rather than stockpiling it and having to make a profit from it?   And if we use it that way, how might our world change?