The Problem With Money

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about money lately. I read a news story today about a guy who lives in a cave right here in the United States of America, has been doing so for a few years now, and doesn't work for a paycheck or owe anyone anything. He just... lives. I'm not saying I want to live in a cave, but I must admit I was inspired.

So, why do we feel so tied to this mystical method of exchange? We like what money can buy and feel that we NEED money to make us happy, healthy and whole. When we get bored or feel down, what do we do? We buy something - go see a movie, buy a new CD, get some new clothes that make us look the way we want to look. But how much of this do we really need? Obviously there are the basic essentials - healthy food, basic clothing, basic shelter, and necessary health care. These essentials are largely taken for granted here in this great nation of ours, essentials that a shamefully large portion of the human population that covers the globe go without. But, we go about our daily American lives, drinking our clean, nearly free tap water, or guzzling gallons of filtered or spring water that comes prepackaged in convenient little 20 oz. bottles that we either, if we are at all conscious of the impact we have on our world, recycle, or we throw in the trash to be shuffled off with the billions of other discarded food containers to the local land fill. Whatever, we (the consumer) never see it again, so what does it matter to us? But, back to money (before I get on my environmental soap box - there will be more of that later).

If we look at the amount of debt most of us carry, and then look at what we're actually spending, we will quickly begin to see (if we let ourselves - if we remain conscious) that we are using money like an emotional band-aid. There's no end to the madness. If I'm feeling depressed about how much money I've spent in the past month, what better way to cheer myself up than to buy myself a ticket to the movies or a nice dinner or maybe just a little thing... a cheap pair of earrings, a cheap book, a cheap candybar. Because there's plenty of 'cheap' to go around, isn't there? If I'm feeling good and want to celebrate I'll treat myself to a $5.00 latte and maybe a nice lunch. If I'm feeling frazzled and stressed about time and money and work and family life and everything else, well I'd better drive through for lunch because I don't have time for anything else. There's another $6 to $10 just for one person. And what if I don't actually have the money to pay for these things? Well... I've got plastic. I can charge my Visa or Mastercard and pay for it later... with interest... but whatever, because I got what I wanted NOW, and that's really the magic word in this society, isn't it? NOW.

So, I've decided to stop the madness and look for a better way to live. I know there's got to be one. I'm not claiming to know exactly how to get out of this downward instant gratification spiral yet - I think it has something to do with emotional awareness, a concept very dear to my heart. I've read a few books, considered their information, and put them back down again. But I think I might pick them back up. Because maybe I don't need that new ipod NOW. Maybe I can wait until I've saved up the money... and maybe by then I won't even want it anymore.

I'd like to recommend the following two books on the topic.

The first is "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez, Vicki Robin and Monique Tilford. It's a very informative and refreshing book, and definitely worth the read for anyone still swimming in the economic flow and wishing they had a little more control and a little more choice.

The other is called "The Scavengers' Manifesto" by Anneli Rufus and Kristen Lawson. This one's good for anyone - whether you're participating in the economic flow or not. Full of economic and environmental philosophy, it will have you taking another look at the grand scheme of things and rethinking your place in it.

So, I'm going to start counting my pennies. The goal is to be more aware of my own spending habits and the impact that has on my life and my world. Can I be free of debt and free to lead the life I truly want instead of just "getting by"? Perhaps. At the very least, I can be more conscious.

Break Out the Exploding Snaps!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I told myself I wasn’t going to freak out, that I was going to be mature about this. After all, it’s just another day. But…. IT’S HERE! IT’S HERE! IT’S FINALLY HERE!!!!!!!

Yes, friends, today is the day, the day thousands of people have been waiting months and months and, wait … a few more months… for – the American release of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince in theaters across the country. And everywhere, Harry Potter fans, not least of all yours truly, are celebrating and all but bursting with anticipation. Of course, as fate would have it, yours truly will not be watching this most excellent of films until sometime this weekend. Sigh. Nevertheless, it is cause for excitement just knowing that at midnight tonight I could, if Fate were kinder and I so chose, if I had things my way (no singing, please), stand in line at my local theater, throw down my $8.50 and see the movie for the first time in its final and polished entirety. No more trolling the internet for any trailer or bit of HBP rumor info I can find. No more wringing of hands, watching the countdown to movie time and going, “Oh please, are we there yet?” No, friends. We have arrived.

So, in honor of this blessed event, I raise my butterbeer to JK Rowling, mastermind and seamstress of this incredible tail. And to Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, thanks for being a stand-up guy, Harry, with your moral fiber and your “saving people thing”. The world needs more Harry Potters – people who stand up for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to explore the possibilities. Today my blog is dedicated to you. Today we celebrate!

If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, sorry, I just couldn’t help it. In the immortal words of the great Arthur Weasley, “We can’t resist showing off when we get together.” If you are a Potter fan, you get it.

Now I leave you all with a little video that has been the source of hours of fascination and entertainment for many of my Potter-lovin’ friends.

Suck It Up

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Another day in paradise, and I gotta' say, the spark isn't really finding me lately. It's been much like swimming through mud and pushing myself to keep moving forward. Too much summer heat, too many things in the schedule to keep track of, too much clutter in the old noggin. Occasionally, I catch one of those little glimpses of... something... but it usually ends up being the mental equivalent of seeing what you're just sure was a great snowy owl soaring past, only to find it's a plastic grocery sack floating through the air. Ugh.

So, Muse, what gives? Are you taking a break? On strike? Did ya' think you might mention you were going to check out before you just left me hanging here? Oh, the frustration.

Of course, if I were talking to me (as, I suppose, I am) I would tell myself to grab a cup of coffee, throw on some Vast or some Coldplay (depending on how far into my no-inspiration-havin'-funk I am at the moment) and get to crackin'. Write something, sing along to the music, close your eyes and just zone out for awhile. But whatever you do, don't sit there and whine about how mentally clogged you feel. Suck it up. Your Self is waiting.

Yeah... that being said, I think I'm going to go take a walk now and bask in this July heat, see what speaks to me. Or maybe I'll just sit in the A/C and read. Half Blood Prince is coming out tomorrow, so I've got some Potter to re-catch up on. Mmm... iced tea and Potter... that just might be the perfect reset button.

Prelude: First Impressions

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I have called this little space "Notes from a Sentient Observer", and, being a sentient creature, I will attempt to use my consciousness conscientiously. I believe there is a big responsibility in being a free-thinking individual. How we choose to think and express ourselves adds or detracts from the human tapestry. We learn from each other, absorb each other's opinions and color our individual worlds often times with borrowed crayons. It is true that every living creature is unique in its essence, but none of us are independently us.

We are what we read, who we know, what we listen to and what we see. Our sensory diet is made up of the world around us, which is constantly consumed to feed the vast and endless universes within us. And yet, once the information is consumed, we have the opportunity to decide what to do with it. Do we adopt it as truth? File it under "Useless Information"? Do we reject it entirely? Or will we mull it over for awhile, running it through our impressively complex internal networks of checks and balances, translations and emotional impressions? And, once the information has been sorted and assimilated, how will it affect our daily life and our reactions to the next piece of information?

This is where conscience comes in. If we are to be responsible sentient beings, we must be willing to consider how our reactions and ravings might affect the person standing next to us. Or, indeed, how we might be affecting the greater human tapestry and the universe on which we depend.

It is in the spirit of conscientious consciousness that I will forge ahead, striving ever to be inspiring, entertaining and enlightening wherever possible. These will be musings from my own sentient mind, my human reaction to those things I perceive to be important or interesting. It will never be my intention to offend or disturb, only to share perspective and encourage conscious thought. I will trust you, my fellow sentient, to take responsibility for your own mind. Until the next impression...