I’ll bet that title got your attention.

If you want money more than anything, you’ll be bought and sold your whole life.”

Rumi

There is much guilt that surrounds finances for me. We as a society have moved so far from trade of meaningful goods; we worship green paper like salvation.

We choose values over other values all the time. We have to to survive, especially in a capitalist economy; isn’t its very basis trade? And there isn’t really anything wrong with having to choose between values at times because although capitalism makes it systematic, we cannot be everything at every second.

I recently had a group session with other folks with OCD. We talked about the difficulty of making decisions with this disease and how the will to stay true to our values can help fight OCD – and also how we cannot be everything at every second! For example, lately I’ve been struggling between two things I value: (1) Taking care of animals and (2) having a clean, orderly home. One of my cats has been getting nosebleeds and so I’ve been constantly cleaning blood, giving him messy medicine, and falling behind on laundry. Things aren’t neat. OCD wants me to stay stuck and stressed about not being able to be perfect; I am choosing to pick the “taking care of animals” value for now and doing my best to keep the apartment livable. We’re just out here doing the best we can right now.

Then today, I saw the incredible Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer speak. She is truly a wonder. She spoke of authenticity instead of appropriation; of naturalizing to the land; of returning humanity to its rightful place as part of nature. These things are beautiful, and they are inspiring.

And earlier today as well, I talked to a friend and coworker about my desire to return to university and earn my PhD. And we talked about what a cult academia is – and it is. We talked about the financial and temporal difficulties of graduate programs (and college in general) and Dr. Kimmerer brought it all full-circle when she brought up her distaste for achievement hierarchies – not as a way to belittle the achievements but as a way of freeing us from that modern cult of push, push, push and add more letter after your name.

All of this has me thinking of money and of what I value. There is value to the experiences of the PhD candidate. There is value other than the financial in jobs, in academic programs. And there is even value – an energy – in money if you respect yourself & your world more than your dollar.

I want nothing more than a life filled with joy and the senses. I need money to survive, but something Dr. Kimmerer said earlier really stood out to me – that the measure of wealth can be how much you have to share. And I wonder what I can do with that wisdom?


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