Money Isn’t…

It’s almost 2 am in the mountains on a Sunday night, and I’m feeling nostalgic, wondering if anyone else is awake. I’m romanticizing again, thinking about what it would – rather, what it will – be like when we’re back in New York. It’s still 2 am, but suddenly I’m sitting on the wooden window box, drinking coffee, watching rain slide off the glass making everything in the street blurry – sights and sounds alike. I’m writing. I’m not worried about getting up early for work in the morning because I’m not going there. See? Nostalgic. Romantic. Overly so. Listening to Ani Difranco does that to me. Reminds me of living in Woodside, staying up till 4 or 5, writing about all the things I still wanted to do. It rained a lot back then, and I never thought I’d miss it so much as I do now, 2000 miles away. Just like I never thought the same cup of coffee could taste so different depending on where in the world you were sipping it from.

For the past several years, it seems the universe has had a major lesson or two for me, doled out annually so as not to overwhelm its student with too many teachable moments that could be casually and mistakenly labeled coincidence and ignored. For 2006 there have been two.

First: being 31 is much better than being 30 – I just had to get through 30 to realize it.

Second, more importantly: money isn’t everything. I had to make some of it to learn that lesson, and I don’t think it would have had the same lasting impression on me at any other time in my life. Sure, it’s nice to pay off the debt and clear enough after basic expenses and bills for a few extras, but then, what else is there? You could make a truck load of money, but with no one to share it with and no time to use it, what good is it? What good, if its inescapable partner is misery? Everyone I know worries about money. Those who have it. Those who don’t. There is never enough. I remember this article in the New Yorker about 10 years ago about the paradox of money. They interviewed 10 people ranging from an editorial assistant whose annual salary was $19K to the wife of some guy making over $10MM a year. Every singe person across the financial spectrum had the same complaints about not having enough money. The editorial assistant couldn’t afford the designer clothes she was expected to wear to fashion magazine parties, and the socialite wife didn’t have enough for all of the servants, seasonal wardrobe overhauls, nannies, private nursery schools, and personal assistants her social status commanded. And when I think of all the people I know who have some kind of money, the article makes perfect sense. There is never enough.

A bottomless, writhing pit. Like Edmund’s Turkish Delight in Narnia. He can’t get enough of it, and continues to eat it despite the witch’s cruelty and the danger his family is in. If all money will get me is a burning desire for more of it, no thanks. I’d rather write.

People keep asking me why I want to leave my stable, comfortable, salaried, corporate job to drop everything, move across the country and write. Anais Nin said, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection.” When I’m writing, life is twice as intense, beautiful, meaningful. When I’m not, it’s so only half as much. When I’m in an office, money doesn’t matter because it’s taking me away from writing. Why else? Anais has much to say on this. I will let her speak for me.

Here I sit, “tasting life in retrospection” (and in future-spection, dreaming about rain on the window blurring the neon lights outside), in utter denial about having to pick out my work clothes, floss, set alarm, fall asleep, wake up in 5 hours… wanting desperately instead to make another pot of strong coffee, sing along with Miss Difranco, and write someone’s life story before the sun comes up.

Money isn’t everything. In fact, it’s hardly anything.

7 thoughts on “Money Isn’t…

  1. My absolute favorite post yet! Tough choice-with so many fun and interesting ones to choose from..but this one is just further evidence that the Bims is not only brilliant, but also beautiful! (inside and out) And that’s not coming from a place of bias because she is my FSIL and I am her most loyal fan after her mom (see June 29 post) – I log onto the Bims’ Blog EVERY morning simply because her scintillating wit brightens my day!

  2. Maybe this already came as a comment, but I don’t think so…

    The reason people can’t believe that you are quitting a job you don’t like, is because they are scared. Too scared to give up the comfort of a “good job.” I know. I gave up a good job to start my own thing. Almost everyone I know said I was crazy. How could I give up paid vacations and a guaranteed income. I didn’t know how to tell them that the mere thought of one more school year in the classroom made me want to run away screaming. The real kick in the pants is, what I do now isn’t that much different, but it is on my own time and my own repsonsiblity.
    I’m lucky I have what I need. I could probably go and get a “real” job and make more. I asked my husband once if he ever wondered what our lives would be like if I made more. He said he used to wish that I had a corporate high paying job, but even with the salary boost he’d still wish we made just a bit more because we would spend a bit more. So for now, we will be satisfied with our medium paying jobs, and our medium house, and enjoy an amazing life since we don’t both work 50 hours a week.

  3. Wish I could say ..”money isn’t everything” but when you are forced out of work due to illness or rough times….”money is everything” cause when you don’t have enough …it is all consuming!!!!

  4. That’s my point – it’s all-consuming no matter what – because we can never have enough. When our salary isn’t enough, we feel like we can’t pay the bills, we want more. When we get a raise, we get new cars, or a bigger house, then suddenly we can’t pay the bills, and we want more. When we lose a job, and don’t adjust our lifestyle to accommodate, we don’t have enough. That’s the thing about money – especially in this culture – there is never ever ever enough of it.

    And the definition of “hard times,” like the aforementioned cup of coffee, depends on where you’re sitting (or, more accurately, what you’re sitting under – a roof with food in the fridge, or a cardboard box eating out of a dumpster, for example).

  5. Forget the money aspect! We all know it is necessary (from someone who has also struggled through unemployment due to illness). The point is, our “passion” should be elsewhere. And how beautiful to have such an appreciation for the written word! Without it, we wouldn’t have such funny and fun posts as “Morning People Suck” (Aug 8) to keep us thoroughly entertained!

  6. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Twenty Boy Summer! « sarah ockler :: author of TWENTY BOY SUMMER

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