Member Rara Avis
Durban, South Africa
MONEY IS NOT EVIL
7 July 2013
Joan looked deep into the babyblue sky, heavy with winter sunlight, and sighed softly. Her weighted soul felt comforted outside with her dog and her cat and her Heavenly horse, cat and dog, and her heart and her God and His Nature.
She looked at the weeds in the back garden and wanted to pull them up, but knew if she started, she wouldn’t be able to stop. She had to get back inside and work on her database and get it sold as soon as possible. She paused a while, loath to leave her golden hour, then, “Come, innies my angels” for it was time for their breakfast. The trio gave their all to the routine they enjoyed so much, anticipating every step. Then panic gripped her by the throat and she plunged into the work she wished she had the time to enjoy.
No, she couldn’t work now – the plumbers may arrive at any moment and the intercom isn’t working. She had told the plumber’s wife they would have to phone her when they arrived, but perhaps she would forget so she plonked herself on a chair in what used to be in times gone by, her daughter’s bedroom with her feet up on the bed and read a little, wrote a little, checked the gate often and worried a lot, her remote next to her to open the gate when they arrived. “What if they don’t come?” she thought. “What if the quote is too high?” She still had to collect dog food. She had driven all the way the previous day to get it, but they had sent the wrong food – what a waste of petrol and time! - so she spent money on another phone call, to check whether the right food had arrived yet and it hadn’t. She had enough for her dog’s supper and breakfast, but tomorrow was cutting it too fine. “What if the dog food doesn’t arrive today?”
She pondered the money thing. She had learned to hate money with a passion, as a child. Her mother had married her father largely, if not totally, for his money. He had allowed his money to ruin his life. He left a lot to her, his only (unwanted) daughter, at the time of the divorce, but her mother stole most of it from her and hated her for the amount she couldn’t steal and for goodness knows what other reasons.
Her mind tripped back to all the bad financial decisions she had made, but truly, even now they didn’t seem wrong – the university degree, the trip to immerse herself in the glories of Ancient Greece on a tour with her lecturers – but then she fell in love with modern Greece perhaps as much as she adored it for its Ancient Greek legacy – leaving teaching to venture into the business world . . . she loved her life as barren as it was . . . .and didn’t regret, in distant retrospect, her largely unhappy marriage of seven years to a man who never knew her . . . she loved her children fiercely, though her daughter hadn’t spoken a poison-free word to her in over twenty years, except three civil sentences in 2007 on her sixty-first birthday, six years before in an email from Australia where she had lived for the last twelve years.
The mid-afternoon sun on a tree’s grey-green plumes against the pale blue sky made her catch her breath in anguish at its beauty. “Where ARE those plumbers?” she wondered – “almost a day wasted – if only they come today” she thought as the water in the passage continued to fall from the geyser, swelling and warping 3 chipboard cupboard doors. She dared not phone them again. The plumber had said he could wait for half of the unconfirmed quote till the end of that month and the other half at the end of the next month. She couldn’t phone them again, but she did, and they were on their way. Their vehicle had apparently broken down.
She thought about how people who had enough money to cope with essentials simply had no idea what it is like not to have money. “Just get a this” or “just get a that” was out of her reach because “get means “buy”, she who had three slices of bread and peanut butter and three cups of tea a day for six days a week, and a decent, nutritious, delicious dinner at her son’s house once a week.
Every little thing becomes a huge thing – a leaking geyser; a wooden gate that needs fixing or replacing; a dripping tap; an intercom that doesn’t work; an overgrown garden; a house that needs cleaning; a car’s radiator leak; bargeboards that have fallen off; the house that needs painting; all these were just some of the many, many things that needed doing, and most just wouldn’t and couldn’t be done. Some of them she could have done herself, but none of these would bring in an income. She needed to work frenetically on databases she developed and marketed to prospective clients and offer to tailormake others to suit their needs.
However anti-crime and community and animal projects she was involved in, kept getting in the way, not to mention crime itself – and working out her priorities at any given moment, constricted and froze her solar plexus, her mind and her ability to make decisions.
Sometimes she wished that she hadn’t made all the financial mistakes she did, but the thought of going without the enrichment of her University years and the trip to Greece and what that brought her mind and her thoughts and her poetry in subsequent years, made her take back the wish. The only one that was a really relevant error was not selling her previous house which she loved passionately – but if she hadn’t done that she would never have developed an indigenous forest garden at the house she bought in 1983 not even half a mile away, but having been tricked into selling her previous house at a ludicrously low price, by two unscrupulous agents and an unscrupulous buyer and her own ignorance, stupidity, naïveté and trusting nature, really irked her. That was the one thing that plunged her into a financial abyss that she didn’t ever really emerge from except for one year when she had a contract with a company for a really good salary, but that salary was swallowed up during the following 8 months before she could find another job which paid a third of that salary. Another thing that kept her down was taking out a second bond for the drastic increase to the security of her home – fencing a large outer-boundary on a corner house with a high metal palisade fence, motorising the outer gate and the garage door, twelve outside lights (that no longer worked because the globes are too expensive), a three-point intercom, one point of which is not working - because of the continued burglaries and attacks, otherwise by then, she would have paid off the bond. She could hardly regret that.
She didn’t mind working her butt off and a Spartan life brought a certain edge – like Heidi eating bread and cheese with her grandfather high up in the Alps. She just wished that she had financial security to pay what needed to be paid and that she was working for fun. She would love to be able to enjoy leisure time fully and without a scrap of guilt.
However, she had learned that money is neither good nor evil. It is simply a means to pay your way and not have to accept from others what is rightfully theirs. It is a means of barter. It is a means to an end, and not an end in itself. It is what you do with it that matters. She had made, if not financial mistakes, at least financial choices - and was – not necessarily paying for them – but living out their consequences. And she knew that she would do her damnedest to turn around her financial circumstances, and not by marrying or relying on a boyfriend. She was never one for free trips, though was eternally grateful to her son for helping her out twice for years at a time, though it sliced up her soul to take his money when he needed it badly himself. She ached to be able to pay it back, but was drowned in the depressive thought that she probably never could, but at the very least, he would inherit the house. She liked to pay her own way and she adored, almost worshipped, her independence and freedom.
She struggled to find something in her life that she would have changed, if given the chance . . . aside from her daughter having turned on her, her son’s roller-skating accident as a young child, and later his breaking his nose without knowing it until a doctor told him as an adult, and any heart-aches that her children suffered, and her son’s smoking as a teenager and adult, and her not having enough money any more to live without panic, there wasn’t anything within her own life that she would have wanted different . . . All was as it should be. No, she said, “Money is not evil. It is what we do with – or without it – that can be evil if we succumb to evil – or, on the other end of the scale, that can teach us tremble-precious lessons.”