Money, why are we all so obsessed by it?

Mon 28 June – Sun 4 July 2021

(over half-way through the year!)

I suppose you could say the blog title is a bit of a stupid question. Well because poverty is not that appealing. Totally true but over the last week I have been thinking how much (too much) of our lives is dominated by money and its pursuit. You accrue a fortune but you are going to die anyway. So why not live within your means and enjoy the money you have rather than constantly striving for more?

The evil side of money

There is the famous saying from the Bible, ‘Money is the root of all evil’. Though it is claimed that this is better translated as ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’. They are both true and we know the direction they are pointing us in. That if we put accumulating money and wealth above else then that will lead to unhappiness as the point of living is to be happy. Indeed, one of my very favourite sayings of Jesus is the quotation below.

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I think what he meant was to just strive for enough to survive and help others. That accumulating more for the sake of it is simple greed. As is not sharing with others your luck of being wealthy. Indeed, the whole point of having money is to give it away. Success on a personal or organisational level is not just how much money you have or how big you grow. More important is your impact: Is the world better with you in it? Really, why? And try asking why 5 times to test your answer.

Money and me

What this means on a personal level is that I have rebuilt my savings post redundancy. So now I need to think how I can really have impact and meaning in my life beyond just accruing more money. And it means that I must be careful not to measure others, be they individuals or organisations, solely by the wealth they have. Again it just comes down to the simple question of ‘Are you making the world a better place?’

β€œStyle is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

Gore Vidal

GREEN

Tech for Good: Social Change Lab

I have continued to push the big pro-bono offer I am overseeing with my colleague Jeantine – the Social Change Lab. Been having some fascinating conversations with people thinking of applying as well as catch-ups with old colleagues like Ume and Debbie. And I have learnt that the biggest organisations aren’t necessarily the ones we will be working with. Rather aptitude and internal culture around tech and innovation are going to be more important factors. Alongside the resources that can be given by the organisation beyond money – particularly their staff, volunteers and users’ time, commitment, and enthusiasm. πŸ™‚

Family

Nearly half of last week was spent in the north taking my mum to see Dave’s mum. My ‘old lady’ (LOL she hates being called that) likes these trips but she hasn’t done one for about 3 years. Of course, the pandemic has messed up the last 18 months. You can’t choose your family but they are the only one you have. I hate it when you see other families dominated by the quest to make money and outdo each other.

A good trip up on Friday though we did get caught in a traffic jam on the M1. Fish and chips on Fri evening then the big local garden centre Saturday daytime. Inevitably followed in the evening by sandwiches whilst we watched the England vs Ukraine match. Sunday was out to the seaside but Dave’s mum came over unwell and we had to rush her back home. She was still not feeling good on Monday morning. πŸ™

It was nice to get out of the normal daily routine for a couple of days and spend time with the mums. Part of the issue is for how much longer they will be around. πŸ™ Money won’t replace them and so it’s important to enjoy the time together while you can. Also time out just makes your realise the stress we are all under and, again, it’s that thing about if you make money your God then you will live with the consequences.

Friends: Robert

A really great catch-up with Robert who helps to organise the Velvet Page Book Club. We met last Thurs afternoon and went for a walk around Brompton Cemetery which is a place we both love. A great chat particularly as we are of a similar situation in terms of age and considerations for the future. Both coming to the autumn years of our career / working life and wondering what next? Well that is probably to both live on the money we have and simply enjoy ourselves while we still can.

Brompton Cemetery

Daisy

Another big meet last Tues evening when me and Dave met my old pal Daisy for dinner. So nice to go out to a restaurant again. Though it was dead apart from us. πŸ™ Perhaps due to the fact the England vs Germany match was on at the same time. Really nice to catch-up with Daisy plus the bored waiter joined us in conversation for a large part of the meal! In line with the theme of this blog, a lot of the meal was spent discussing how to ensure getting older could be possibly the best part of one’s life rather than just worrying about money when you already have enough to survive.

Art and Culture: ‘Pride’

This was going to be firmly in the red again until Sat night. Back at the hotel after dinner and footie at Dave’s mum’s, I watched the film ‘Pride’ on the TV as I was laying on the bed in the dark and Dave was asleep next to me. A fictional take on the true story around Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners, amazingly I have never seen it before. But what a brilliant film and it raised some significant emotions in me.

I remember the time of the Miners’ Strike – how bitterly it divided the national and how their defeat part-led to the longer terms decline of the UK as Thatcherism dominated. I’m not saying I liked Arthur Scargill but whole communities were destroyed and the fabric of the nation was weakened. I do remember LGSM and its ‘founder’ Mark Ashton – a very political person and not always easy to get on with. The film did romanticise things a bit but then it is a film. And his early death from AIDS was a complete tragedy.

Watching the film and its contents have reinforced to me that the pursuit of money should not be one of the main objectives in my life. I need to spend more time doing things I enjoy and that make the world a better place. Producing art and immersing myself in culture is linked to this. Might not be straight away but I want to be doing both of those things longer term. Plus following the correct moral path even if difficult. πŸ™‚

LGBT rainbow flag

AMBER

Sustainability

Nothing major here apart from one incident during the week. I was in my favourite charity shop and I came across some books that could have fitted in with my collection of retro gay fiction. It’s a big collection split between mine and Dave’s flat. But the reality is that I am not going to be able to read all these books before I die. So the collection is a vanity project and I am gradually letting it go. Thus I resisted the urge to buy the books and, obviously, that meant I didn’t waste money by doing so. πŸ™‚

β€˜When the protests get too loud, you make the protests illegal’

Greta Thunberg

Personal Development

Amber as I managed some decent time on Duolingo particularly focused on Spanish and German. And I even managed some more time on Mimo practising coding. πŸ™‚ Again, I can see a time coming in the future when I will devote myself more to development.

β€œNo one ever said on their deathbed β€˜I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ ”

Exercise

Firmly in the amber as I don’t have the time and opportunities to do the level of exercise I would like to. So I fall back to my emphasis on walking which really only kicks in when I am not working. πŸ™ A ton of walking on Tuesday as I walked there and back to the hospital. But not a great week particularly with all the driving to see Dave’s mum and driving the mums around.

With my new view that life will gradually move to a phase where there are going to be more important things to focus on than accruing money, so I need to get back to my jog-runs. Might not be in the immediate future but it must happen. My knee still hurts and I think exercise doesn’t make it worse – perhaps it will make it better. And the mental health benefits are well known to me from past experience.

animation of a fat man running

Health: INR and HIV

I mentioned in my previous blog how I had 2 medical appointments. Both really important. First, my INR which was good regarding my blood clotting such that I don’t need to go back for 6 weeks. πŸ™‚ Second, my HIV blood tests including checks on my prostate. At the same time I collected 6 months’ worth of anti-retrovirals and set up appointments for 6 months’ time. Dealing with long-term chronic health problems is a drag but vital and shows there are more important things in life than money.

RED

Books

On the red list this week as I have not finished either of the 2 books I have been reading. πŸ™ They are both good (details in my previous blog here) but more intense than I realised. And also in the red as I failed to attend last week’s Velvet Page book club. πŸ™ TBH it’s simply that I can’t face zoom meetings in my free time when I spend all day on them for work. Next month, we are meeting again in person which I am really looking forward to.

A room full of books

Weight

In the red because I have put on the pound that I lost the previous week. πŸ™ See details on my weight here. I still have hope of losing weight not least because of some of the things I am learning from reading Dr Jason Fung’s ‘The Obesity Code’. Namely the importance of controlling insulin in you body and how certain foods + times of eating + stress lead to over-production of insulin. Just got to put the theory into action now!

The Week Ahead

  • Back from the North on Monday, hopefully not too many traffic jams going back
  • The main thing will be finishing conversations around the Social Change Lab with close of applications on Friday and then we start the process of scoring / shortlisting to identify who to progress to interview πŸ™‚
  • Usual catch up with Phyllis on Tues and, hopefully, a face to face meet with another former colleague Irene on Thurs though she’s not been well recently πŸ™
  • Should get both current books finished and hopefully will start on some new ones πŸ™‚
  • Dave has booked tickets for us to see a musical review on Saturday. Musical theatre is not really my thing but I shall try to enjoy it.
  • Got to make sure I get some good walking in and try to push my weight down a little

And Finally…

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