Speaking of money.
A very powerful exercise you can do to become aware of what money means to you, especially noting if it was stressful, is to remember incidents with money that felt uncomfortable, frightening, sad, or devastating.
Maybe there are only a few that immediately rise to the surface of your memory banks. All you need is one. But see if you can find more.
*A moment in the kitchen where the air was so thick with tension, you could cut it with a knife. I am only six. My grandpa and father have just raised their voices at each other. My dad is choked with anger at his father-in-law (grandpa). The women are completely silent.
Money makes my dad furious. Money makes my grandfather nasty and critical.
*A moment in the driveway of my brand new home where I’ve just moved with my then-husband and very small children. I open the trunk to retrieve my little overnight suitcase packed for my uncle’s funeral with my black velvet dress, black high heeled shoes, my favorite elegant earrings, and my father’s grey wool v-neck sweater with the tiny hints of blue and pink woven in.
My father has been dead for 8 years, but I take his sweater with me everywhere. It still smells like him.
As I open the trunk, I discover the suitcase gone. It was stolen.
Money made someone steal what was precious to me.
*A moment where I’m crying in the parking lot of the grand cathedral I grew up attending, sitting in my little car looking out at the Seattle skyline.
My mom opens the passenger door and gives me one look. She takes out her checkbook and writes a check for my mortgage, due tomorrow. I weep with relief, and rage.
Money made me ashamed, to ask my own mother, when I am 45 years old, to rescue me from financial crisis.
*A moment where my then-husband says with both irritation and hesitation, “Were you going to start looking for work soon?” after our youngest, age 2, goes to sleep.
Money made me lose the respect of my former husband. Money made it so I couldn’t stay with my children.
*The family van is loaded. The moving trucks have already gone. We pull away from our house. I’ll have to go to third grade in a place called Washington. I watch the house until I can’t see it anymore, and the car turns down the main road out of Lawrence, Kansas.
Money made my parents leave our home, forever, so my dad could get a promotion to a new teaching job.
*A woman who works with me closely turns out to be watching everything I do with a critical eye, reporting tiny mistakes like typos to our supervisor over time.
Money made me stay in the presence of a creepy, bitter woman because I needed the job.
*People I see who have money have access to health care, body work, meditation retreats, community, comfort, security, pride, housing communities. People I see who have no money hurt themselves with smoking, junk food, zero health care, insecurity, evictions, lack of therapy, isolation and hatred of rich people.
Money divides people.
*I have a friend who has had a long successful high-paying career.
She lives in a dull looking ranch-style house with a tiny yard in a sunny area that stays about the same temperature all year, with cactuses and palm trees. She tell me about investing on the side in a sunglasses company, and buying an apartment building.
She’s saving up for when she becomes enlightened. She constantly attends spiritual retreats, with every non-dual teacher you’ve ever heard of, plus more.
Money keeps people unenlightened and unwilling to let go into what they actually really want.
I’ve got my stories. These are my proof of why money has been a mean, nasty, rotten, hateful, separating, insane-making entity.
Until I take these situations through the inquiry known as The Work.
The more I return to these images and scenes for deep, open-hearted inquiry, the lighter I become.
I notice each and every day, and every encounter with money, there’s an opportunity to slow, slow, slow down and really look.
(And there are so many moments every day with money, from the walk to the store for milk, to gifting my son with his annual license plate tabs when he didn’t expect the expense, to paying my monthly web hosting company).
Who would I be without the story, right here today, that money causes problems…..or lack of money causes problems?
I know its a really big question.
So take one situation at a time.
The minute you begin to look at only one, the story may begin to change. You don’t even have to find “positive” thoughts about money, or work so hard to change your money ideas.
You question, the story changes.
When the story changes, so does the future.
Year of Inquiry focuses on money situations during the fifth month (and if it’s a big topic for you, you can start in on it right away at the very beginning of the year in September).
I love unwrapping these stories with myself, with everyone.
“The awakened mind is like water. It flows where it flows, envelops all things in its path, doesn’t try to change anything, yet in its steadiness all things change. It goes in and out, around and over, above and below, and without meaning to, it penetrates wherever it can. It delights in its own movement and in everything that allows or doesn’t allow it. And eventually everything allows it.” ~ Byron Katie