Sunday, June 12, 2016

For Love of Money

by Father Time

"What's the most important thing in life, love or money?"
With the big Four-Oh just two more trips around the block away, I've been doing some thinking lately.  Actually, I always think more than I should, but now I figured I'd put it down in writing as a time capsule of sorts.  You know, one of those things you fill with stuff, stick in the ground for a few years and hope that someone digs it back up someday?  That means there will be more posts like this in the future filled with my middle-aged ramblings.  So given that I'm a little over 50% through with my life in this world - knock on wood - and having started a new job the other day, I've been scratching my head over something.

Money!  Mainly, the lack of it.  Let me rephrase that, it should be the feeling of the lack of money, i.e.  being poor.  Logically and statistically, I'm not allowed to use that label, but to me, it's as true as the sky is blue.  Having spent my early years living in the projects and being on food-stamps, I've always had a love for money.  Luckily, my parents busted their balls to lift us out of that hole.  But that simply inspired me to chase the mighty $ even more.  So I studied hard and worked harder to get money.  No matter what though, I never felt content.  For a little while, I did get disillusioned by it all and was ready to get out of the rat race, but sanity eventually returned.  Funny how life has a way of doing that to you.

The question at the top of this post was part of a conversation Joyce and I had way back in the day when we were in undergrad.  We have revisited that question many time since then and it usually plays out something like this:
J: "Love is more important, because money can't buy happiness."

L: (after I stop laughing) "Money is more important, because how the hell are you going to keep those loved ones alive if you have no money to buy food or medicine?"
Sure, I'm taking it to the extreme here, but that's honestly how I feel.  Are there some unhappy billionaires?  I'm sure there are, but are there any happy bums?  I think not.  Is there some sort of middle ground here?  I would think so, but I sure as hell haven't found it.  I want to be really clear here, I'm not talking about keeping up with the Joneses.  Having spent the bulk of my life on the lower rungs of the social ladder, I've gotten comfortable down there.  Regardless of what our W2 says, we still live and spend as we did when we first started working.  Of course, the child factor has greatly altered our spending habits, but my self perception hasn't really changed.  I always, ALWAYS, feel as if we have to prepare for a rainy day, month, or year.  Because nothing good ever lasts and the paychecks will stop coming in someday.

I look at our finances and my brain says, "Good job, give yourself a pat on the back."  Again, according to multiple statistics, we're pretty good savers compared the average citizen.  But then my brain thinks about the road ahead and it says, "You suck ass, you guys are f*d if don't start stockpiling more!"  With the costs of healthcare and education here in the US of A, I don't see how anyone can stop preparing.  I envy folks with pensions or medical coverage for life.  If one of us had those, then I'd be a little bit more relaxed.

So while I toil away at this new company, which will demand much more of my time, I simply make peace with myself knowing that the money is slightly better and will position me for better things ahead.  I wish I could see the future to know if this line of reasoning is right or wrong.  But since I can't, I'll just have to dig up this old post a year or two from now to see if this is all worth it.

Regarding the answer to the question up top?  We were both wrong.  Time has taught us that neither love or money is the most important thing in life.  Rather, it's simply good health.   I'm curious to see if this still rings true for us a decade or two from now.  Who knows, maybe love or money will eventually cure cancer and other terminal diseases, but I doubt it.

3 comments:

  1. Heavy thinking. I think you are right to be concerned and to always keep the future in mind - the unexpected expenses are the killers -

    Having (and keeping) good health is important! Having a job you enjoy is important too (I mean why else burn a 1/3 or more of your life doing something you hate doing?)

    Having someone to love is wonderful - I don't have anyone - so I can say you can live without it - but it isn't much fun some days.

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  2. Was I ever that naïve to say that love was the most important? Because good health trumps it all. You need health to pursue your interests, you need health to work, and you need health to care for the ones you love. All that equal happiness. I certainly don't feel that we lack money, but then again, I am not ready to take that part-time jump either due to cut in pay. But in the end, I am just content with the fact that we don't have illness, and we have two healthy and happy kids.

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    1. PS. The inconsistency spacing of this post compared to the other posts is making me uneasy.

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