Money, cash, dough and bread or whatever you choose to call it. These little pieces of paper, metal and numbers on a screen seem to control many things in our society and even the world. Money has come to mean various things to me: stability, power, and even beauty. On the other hand, money can lead to very negative things like greed, loneliness, anger and even death. My entire life my mom has tried to shield me from the evils of money and being trapped under its emerald thumb, constantly working to make more only to be caught in an endless cycle of need.
Time is Money. So is everything else.
At first I didn’t understand why she would constantly tell me how much items and services cost, I would always dread going shopping in fear that I would pick something that was way too much money. Her eyes would bulge, her mouth would make this sort of huffing noise only for her to finally suck in a large breath and look over at me with a disapproving frown.
Now, I know she did it maybe involuntarily and to give me a social awareness about how much things cost. Emphasizing we should take care of what we have. I was not only careless as a child but destructive as well. Everything I touched seemed to break or be simultaneously damaged. I could not figure out why. Although growing up I cannot say that I ever felt deprived my mom always provided a stable and comfortable home to call ours whether it be my aunt’s basement apartment in Bayonne or the five-bedroom fixer upper in Montclair.
Learning the Grind
My mom never failed to keep me happy and healthy. Of course, I learned later all those nights of sleeping in “the office” on a blow-up mattress or naps under the desk, baths in the sink and dinners in the back kitchen were in fact my mom vigorously working all night striving to get ahead to remain relevant at her job while blocking her deep fears of leaving our little family without a home.
For all the stability that money has come to mean for me it also exudes power. The power to go out and do what I want when I want. Eat when I am hungry, buy clothes when I’m cold, hot or just because. I see these starving children on commercials who barely live on a dollar a day. I think about how I am sitting here enjoying an abundance of food, down feather blankets and fresh water when they have close to nothing.
Don’t get me wrong I know that it is not all that simple due to the lack of economic infrastructure, cultural differences, crime and corruption. But it hurts sometimes to know that money is not only power but imbalance. Where a small 1% of people have vast amounts of wealth and the other 99% have absolutely nothing. Money stops people from receiving a proper education or the lack of it for that matter.
The Not so Jolly Green Giant
Money is a necessary evil that is intended to keep humans in check. Although in retrospect it might have seemed like a novel idea but in fact has become something that destroys rather than creates.
I cannot say that I know everything there is to know about economics but what I do know is how money makes me feel. When I have none I feel powerless and restricted, I feel like I cannot decide my own fate. I feel like I am limited and what is available to me is meager.
It scares me to feel that way; some people say money does not buy happiness but it’s better crying in your corvette then in a box on the street. Which in some ways I can understand but my mom always tells me “Jasmine don’t chase the money it’s not worth it and will only make you unhappy”. It’s hard to believe her when inheriting wealth makes you feel so free.