• Julie

Money money money

I recently read a quote: "He who knows how to be poor knows everything". It prompted me to reflect on the monetary nature of 21st century life. Many of us will have the privilege of never knowing what it is to be poor; never knowing where our next meal will come from; wondering will it be a forgiving night?

Money is a fickle social adhesive branding classes and permitting worth. But what does it truly bring? The wonderful world of tiktok has opened a million doors at once, each offering 15-30 second glimpses of alternate realities as lived by others. I have seen inside celebrity million dollar mansions and country caravans, Miami beach houses and smoothly furnished Icelandic cabins. The lavish and architecturally sublime dwellings boast prosperous income and stability. I often wonder what life is like within, what glow it has. For how useless is a loaf of bread with only an impressive crust.

"money can't buy happiness". "money doesn't grow on trees".

Two of the most overused clichés that english serves up on silver platters throughout our childhood years as we learn how to save our birthday earnings and cherish the fivers that granny slips into our small hands. It is a privilege to be able to save. It is also a privilege to be able to budget efficiently. How lost we would be without our currencies, our pay cheques and bank accounts. What would you do if in the morning, you woke on the side of an unfamiliar road with nothing but the clothes on your skin? Within each of us lives a natural survival instinct and a powerful soul. We are so much more than our material possessions. But perhaps it is only through shedding them that we might come closer to that objective lens hanging just above our reach; the lens that will shed light on the workings of the world, the true meaning of life. OK, I'm going a bit spiritual here. But think about it.

Let that thought marinate for a little while.

Drawing on the suggestions of the afore mentioned quote, when one is poor, one develops a unique perspective and valid insight into the workings and psychology of our intricately constructed social systems. Each component becomes a calculable token offering some reward or progression. And perhaps it is the hunger in one's stomach or the dream in one's heart, but there is a force propelling one into the nucleus of life. This nucleus offers the simplest way of life by the road of survival instinct. Along this road, it is my belief that one will acquire cognisance and total comprehension of the purity of the human spirit and how it has been tarnished with rapacity and ostentation. These qualities may represent subtle "rapid evolutionary advantages" for our material obsessed world. Or they may simply represent a fault which we must strive our whole lives to better.

When we lose our money, or have little, we say "I'm broke". Where does this come from? Well, there's quite a funny story behind it. I googled the history of the english term and seems to originate from the old Norse word "brok" meaning men's underwear. Not exactly what you might have first thought. The reason behind this being that on the battlefield during the medieval period, fallen soldiers were left stripped down to their underwear and stripped of all of their assets. There we have it.

How different a connotation the word evokes today. It suggests that to be without financial security is to lack a fundamental that keeps us "whole". Not only is it a humiliating phrase to utter, but in doing so, the speaker is placing their monetary value on par with their personal. This is a big mistake. And I think that's what the beginning quote begs people to understand. Money defines only financial worth, not personal. And in being poor, lacking this socially dictated 'worth medium', we remove the financial distraction and begin to know ourselves and the world on a deeper, more primal level.

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