I woke up this morning and as I usually do I went on over to Facebook and got caught up on everyone’s shenanigans from the night before. In the process I got very distracted with several of those survey quiz thingies they have on there. You know the ones. You answer the questions as best you can from your perspective.
Seriously, I blew off 30 good minutes of my life doing this and for what? So could write a blog post about it? I mean, I should somehow redeem that time, after all that’s 30 minutes I’ll never get back. Sigh. I probably won’t be doing that again anytime soon.
Even so, lifelong learner that I am, I try to think and learn from everything. One think I noticed about these quizzes, or at least the three I took, was that many of the questions had to do with money. The question was usually posed in the form of “Would you do (insert outlandishly unrealistic thing) if you knew when you were done you would get (insert outlandishly obscene and unrealistic sum of money)?”
I don’t know about anyone else, but questions like that for me are what I like to call, non-questions. They are so unlikely to happen as to not even be a consideration. I reply no every time. However, this does bring to mind some very good questions like, how important is money? What role does money play in one’s life? What role should it play? Do I control it or does it control me? I think this is a question everyone at some level whether they recognize it or not, whether they admit it or not must address. They either do it consciously as they learn to control and use money, or they do it unconsciously and money controls and enslaves them.
Money is important in our world. No denying it. In my own recent history, I’ve had times of plenty and times of near destitution. I’m not alone. I know people personally who’ve earned and lost in the last decade or even in a few years more money than will ever pass through my hands personally were I to live six lifetimes. That is, if I base those lifetimes on what has happened with me and money so far in this lifetime. While money and plenty of it is definitely preferable to me over not having enough of it, I’m not sure having too much of it necessarily solves all the problems either. In fact, massive amounts of wealth create other problems as the wealthy will attest. Yet, would we rather be massively wealthy and have those problems or not. I think most would say yes.
Money, both in excess and in lack is a stressor. I can tell you this if I had my preference, I’d like to have enough money to make sure my obligations were met, my kids were taken care of, educated and supported, that I didn’t have to work until I was 100 and that I could have some extra to travel and enjoy the world without stress. Having $25 billion plus dollars, while not something I would turn down, is something that is really not something I’m all that motivated to go after. I’m especially not motivated to go after it if it compromises my time with my children (what little of it I already have as a divorced working mom who co-parents in two homes). I’m not at all willing to seek the big bucks if doing so will implicate my personal choice, freedom and independence. After all, what good is the money if you trade your life and time to such an extent that there is never an opportunity to enjoy it. Yes, I might be able to afford a family vacation at Christmas to the Cayman Islands but if the manner in which I obtained that money means I have to work millions of hours, hire a nanny and give up my family time, then it just isn’t for me.
You see, for some, money and the attainment of large amounts of it can build prisons around us. The stress, the greed, the desire for more, the obligations and responsibilities associated can keep one tied to the grindstone and the purpose for earning the money in the first place becomes lost.
In a way, I guess, money is like everything else in this world. Money, in and of itself is not a bad thing. How we use it, what we do with it, how we get it, how we interact with it are the real issues. We can either view and operate with money in healthy ways or unhealthy ways. This, in the end, is the crux of the matter for me. While I’ve hated being in the place where I wonder how I’m going to make ends meet, and I hate having to make choices that mean my kids no longer get piano or dance or gymnastics lessons, I also don’t hate it enough to give up the time during the summer that I have with them.
You see, it really all boils down to our time. If our time is truly the most basic essence of our life then how we spend our time is really how we’re spending our life. I, for one, whenever possible (and admittedly for many in worse circumstances than I, these choices do not exist and might never exist) but whenever possible I hope to opt for spending the time of my life with people or on the people most important to me rather than on earning money to get ahead. This is why, at the phase of my life that I’m at, I opt not to take a summer job, when I could and I cut back on expenses in order to spend the time with my children rather than leaving them home alone all summer. It seems a far better choice in the long run for me and those I love, even though it isn’t the most comfortable in the short run.
So, no, Facebook Quiz, I will not go to prison for 20 years even if I know when I get out I will have $25,000,000,000 waiting for me.