Why Money is Funny, Honey

The numbers are real… only because we believe in them.

Antique dealers and E-Bay auctioneers are quite familiar with the fact that the value of an item is simply based on what a person is willing to pay for it. It had to have been confusing when the Native American Indians learned of the Europeans’ obsession with gold, which to them was just another type of metal. There was nothing special about it. But because gold still has value in our economy, we can relate to our European ancestors. Not only have we been trained to associate gold with prosperity, but gold literally does equal monetary wealth.

If only ancient civilization decided that dinosaur fossils should have been the currency, we would put our faith in a completely different rare, inanimate object. It is truly eye-opening, amazing, and disappointing to realize that money itself is simply just a touchable version of the invisible system set in place. Money isn’t real. Our government can print millions more in a just a few minutes, when they choose to. Our faith in the system is what gives money its worth.

A dollar is worth a dollar because we believe it. Same thing with a million. And while each decade inflation alters the value to a degree, we keep enough faith for the system to stay legitimate.

What made this “invisible money” concept even more real for me is when I got a debit card a few years ago. No longer having to go to the bank every Friday during my lunch break to withdraw cash, I could just simply swipe my card to make a purchase, then later check online to see the numbers get a little smaller. The Numbers.

Money is invisible numbers. But while money isn’t real, these numbers still completely affect our lifestyles. So they are real.

Faith makes an invisible economy real.

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An Untamed Lust to See the World

Visiting the Epcot Center at Walt Disney World back in 1990 must have really left an impression on me.  Because now I want to travel the world,  for real.

Yesterday as I was driving home from work, “Who’s Says” by John Mayer came on the radio, and while it’s been in my head ever since then, there’s a particular line that I keep dwelling on: “plan a trip to Japan”.

It opens up this can of worms for me, one that I try to keep out of mind and out of sight: The realization that I will never be able to travel and see the entire world, in all its beauty and mystique. 

To see the ancient and modern wonders of the world.  To meet the people who live in those countries.  To eat their food and drink their wine.  To publish a photo album on facebook from my travels to these places.

I have seen a few countries of the world: Ecuador in 1998, Trinidad and Tobago in 2002, Thailand in 2003 and 2004, Korea in 2004, and New Zealand in 2007.  But that only made me thirst for more.

Best case scenario: I would have to earn or win millions of dollars and retire early in order to be able to see all the parts of the world I want to.

Like Norway and Switzerland and Italy and Croatia.  So basically Europe. 

So since it would be disappointing to assume I’ll end up a millionaire and be able to travel the world in this lifetime, I should consider my next best option:

That when we get to Heaven, in the likeness of a glorified Epcot Center, there will be portal we can step into and instantly see any part of the world we want to. 

Even better, in any year.  Sweden 1983, here I come!

Paul Maley, whom I’ve never met and just happened to randomly find your website, I envy you and your 30 plus years of world travel…

Click below for enlightenment:

http://www.eclipsetours.com/ptravel.html

Taking the Time to Stop and Smell the Play-Doh

And boy, does it smell good.

None of us will ever have enough money.  The house will never be paid off.  Life will always be chaotic.  There will always be a plot that has the ability to constantly keep us on edge.

And that means that we have the option of letting those distractions from letting us enjoy life for what it is.  The default is to be stressed out about the crap we end up stepping in on our way to wherever we are headed. The thorn in the flesh.  The Starbucks drink that wasn’t made just right.  The slightly rude comment we allow to ruin our day.

Though all that really matters in life are the very things we being distracted from.  That’s not fair to the things that do matter.  It’s not the fault of the distractions.

It’s our fault.  For paying for attention to the annoyances in life more than the small wonders and experiences and people that actually make us happy.

Besides, the people that actually do have enough money, the movie stars, the rock stars, the people who don’t deserve our worship that we give anyway, often it’s their lives tend to come across as empty, broken, and lacking.  Even desperate sometimes.  We worship them, yet we don’t respect them outside of their fame, money, success, and talent.  That’s why “celebreality” shows exist.

What is normal, anyway?  A chaotic life where things are not perfect, where money is always lacking, but solid, meaning relationships are not.  I bet a lot of millionaires wish they could be normal.  Like us.

Metaphorical Train Wreck

People are the Meaning of Life, Part 6

“Americans spend an estimated 20 billion dollars annually on ice cream.  An amount that could feed 83 million hungry children for a year.” -State of the World 2004 Worldwatch Institute

“…I bet my whole checking account because it all amounts to nothing in the end.” -Jason Mraz, “Curbside Prophet”

Suddenly, the thought of being filthy rich is less intriguing than ever. I’m not talking about turning down the chance to make $100,000 a year. I mean stinkin’ rich. Multi-millionaire. Completely set for life. So rich that it would be expected of me to drive a new Jaguar and live in a mansion with a kidney-shaped swimming pool and speak with a Connecticut dialect and be on MTV Cribs. Set for life.

I came to the realization that I already have everything I need and want.

Aside from paying bills and getting out of debt and buying food, the only money I really spend is on non-fiction books off the discount rack at Borders. So that means the only thing I can’t get enough of that money can actually buy is knowledge. I can gain knowledge through my own life experiences. The other way is to buy it through books written by people who save me the time of living out the experiences they’ve already learned from.

So once I get out of debt, which I eventually will since my wife are strict followers of Dave Ramsey, what would I continually spend a large income on if I ever had it?

More expensive, impressive cars? A huge house, with its higher insurance rates and utilities and more expensive overhead and all the nice furniture and fixin’s to make it look nice?

It all goes back to Forrest Gump: “Now, Momma said there’s only so much fortune a man really needs… and the rest is just for showing off.”

So I imagine having the house paid off, being debt free, happy in a small but nice house, driving decent cars. What do I need a lot money for?

For me, it would be to travel the world. I’ve only been to 4 other countries in this world (not counting a layover in Japan or driving to the Canada side of Niagara Falls). There is so much beautiful landscape to see and so many interesting people to meet and all that weird foreign culture to be exposed to. I could never get enough of that, yet with money I could try.

But.

Instead of sending myself across the globe, treating it and its people as my own real-life Epcot Center, what if I helped them with my time and money ?

Because after a few awesome trips to Norway and Sweden and Switzerland, it’s gonna hit me: This is fun, but ultimately it’s all about me. And I’m not that big of a deal.

And I think that’s why so many big movie stars and rock stars are often so much more aware of the needs of Third Word Countries. They “get” this high concept more than we do sometimes. Because they are set for life, unlike us. They have the time and the money to see the rest of the world. And before too long, they see a need to help the millions of people currently living in slavery and poverty.

It’s inevitable there will always be poor people and therefore there will always be a need to give our time and money: “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'” -Deuteronomy 15:11

So if I was so rich I could just retire now, and still have plenty of cash to blow, where would my money go? How would I spend with my time?

Other people. With them and for them. That’s where all the extra would go.

How would it be fair that I had too much while most of the world had way too little? How would I not be a hypocrite to live a life that acknowledges that true religion is caring for the orphans and widows yet I lived a lavish lifestyle? I just don’t see how having that much money could ever make me happy.

To have too much of anything ultimately means that someone out there isn’t getting enough.

http://www.worldvision.org/

https://www.hopeforhaitinow.org/Default.asp

Strip away food, clothes, shelter, and faith. It’s safe to say that anyone reading this on their computer has all those things. What’s left that actually matters to us?

People.

Family and friends.

And complete strangers that need the extra money we have to get a much smaller version of those things we already have.

Life really is that simple.

So if by writing this I jinx my situation and become filthy stinkin’ rich so fate can test if I really mean what I say, I’m not afraid. Because speaking of learning from other people’s life experiences, it’s often those same movie stars and rock stars that “get it” when it comes to poverty in the rest of the world that are also the same ones that prove that having too much doesn’t make them happy.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” -James 1:27

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” -Edmund Burke

People are the Meaning of Life- Table of Contents

Part 1 http://wp.me/pxqBU-2h

Part 2 http://wp.me/sxqBU-289

Part 3 http://wp.me/pxqBU-7M

Part 4 http://wp.me/pxqBU-8r

Part 5 http://wp.me/pxqBU-j2

Part 6 http://wp.me/pxqBU-tm