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.