I want to write about my relationship with money because writing helps me think. I want to understand this thing we have. I want peace with money.
Yesterday, in the synchronous way the world continues to surprise me, someone asked, “Do you feel you can earn money but can’t keep it? Does that resonate with you?”
I said that it didn’t resonate, that I’ve earned money and kept it and been able to retire. But she pressed.
“But if you suddenly had a lot of money, say an inheritance, would you be able to keep it, use it, enjoy it as your own?”
My retort was quick. “I got an inheritance. From my father. I kept it—bought land in Kentucky with it.”
But then the last part of her question hit. Did I allow myself to enjoy it? I laughed aloud, then explained. “I bought the land, but haven’t done anything with it. It’s just sitting there.”
I do like to ideate. Thinking about possibilities of what I might build is pleasurable. I have ideas for the Kentucky land.
Some are lower cost: a few raised beds to hold peony plants, protected from the deer by a fence.
Some cost more: a shelter for my car because it gets so hot in the sun, and a little screened porch so I can get out of the bugs, sit and eat lunch without holding it in my lap.
Some are cheap: pay someone to bush hog a path from the car to the screened porch, so I can walk there without brambles tearing at the thickest jeans I own, the ones I save for the field.
All these things might be possible, but I haven’t even priced them. The only thing I’ve done is pay an excavator to refurbish part of the road that goes to my land.
My eyes are filling as I write this, which is unexpected. I don’t know if it’s because I want to plant peonies and haven’t, or if it’s because I’m ashamed to admit it.
Because shame withers in sunlight and empathy, I’m bringing this out of the shadows. I will be compassionate with myself as I write about money and how I do—or do not—allow myself to enjoy it.
A few things before we get going:
- I write from a position of privilege. Because of that privilege, I have options and opportunities most people don’t.
- Money is a strong through-line on both sides of my family. Just as in a historical novel, it may help to have a family tree for reference. I’ll work on that this week.
To those who wrote to encourage my exploration of, as Dave called it, ‘the golden taboo,’ thank you.
I’m not sure where this journey will take us, but it’s already not what I expected.
Chewing the Cud of Good
Thankful for the UC students who teach me as I teach them.