“Mark, a yen, a buck or a pound,
That clinking, clanking, clunking sound,
Is all that makes the world go ’round,”
~ Liza Minelli, Cabaret
It’s all too easy to look at our world today and point to finger to money for this mess we’ve found ourselves in. We project so much insecurity, hate, rejection, anger, and mistrust onto money that we lose sight that it is yet another creation.
I think, if we the creative people of the world, the indigenous, the outsiders, the migrants, those least loved by the monetary system, can embrace it, we will certainly see improvements in our own lives and in the world.
These feel like uncertain times. Normally a sheltered and happy suburban stay-at-home mum, I am feeling uneasy and concerned about what we’re bringing up our children to.
The money markets are taking a plunge as I type this. We’ve destroyed our planet and made many species of living things extinct. Extreme weather caused by climate change threatens the survival of communities, people are immigrating to new countries (sometimes to get away from the limited worldview of their families or countries of origin), intermarrying, cultures are clashing, mixing, harmonising.
Susan Stockwell, the creator of the money dress in the photo, illustrates what I can’t describe in words.
In short, no one has a certain and secure future. Not the white male, not the humpback whale, not the Chinese, African, English, Turkish, Australian, Fijian or any other living species on this planet. Disaster may strike anywhere and we are now all more materially connected than ever, thanks to technology and the financial system. Need I point any further than the Coronovirus pandemic we’ve found ourselves in? It’s ceased trade from China, where many of the goods are made, stopped flights and holidaymakers on their tracks and this threat to consumption sees markets plummeting.
To me, it’s becoming clear that we are all immigrants to this world that feels alien to our human nature. People are working indoors, shut out of the sun’s rays, in highrises where their feet don’t touch the earth. We are on monitors all day long, performing work that feels meaningless and then on phone or Ipad screens trying to find a sense of connection on social media which only makes us feel inferior because we’re not as good looking or happy as those other people.
And the true nature of our misery?
Like Neo from The Matrix, we are being driven mad because we’re out of touch with ourselves, each other and nature.
My Money Past
I was disconnected from my own creative drive when I worked for the U.S. Government in Istanbul. Every once in a while the desire to write a manuscript would rear its head and I’d sit down and do it but then invariably would hate what I’d written. The theme was always how much I hated the U.S. and government. Ironic.
Writing, like mothering, is an act of love. If your purpose is to incite hate or air your anger, that’s something to explore within and deal within the pages of a journal.
What did I hate about the U.S. and the government?
It allowed me a good paycheck, it was a country for people who sought freedom and was founded on values like equality, justice and the pursuit of happiness.
So why was I so unhappy within this American setting?
My upbringing in a modest home, by a father who was a third-generation government worker, had instilled in me that materialism is evil. The irony was that we’d migrated from Turkey to the U.S. for a better future. Here we were in a new country, uprooted from our friends and family for a better future in an evil and materialist empire. Somehow it didn’t inspire me to adapt completely, so after uni, I returned to Istanbul, the city of my birth, the work for the U.S. Government.
But I could not find happiness or acceptance in Istanbul. Fortunately or rather unfortunately, I was a spendthrift, like my mum and dad, who didn’t spend money or time on any creative activities, or the arts, which they didn’t view as functional. Besides, they were too busy wallowed in dysfunction, using their creative energy for silly arguments. I had saved up money but had no life. The money gave me the courage to leave my job for the great unknown and I landed in Sydney.
There, I met a man who works in the money markets and now we have two girls we’re raising together.
My Money Present
I had terrible luck in Sydney. My ass was handed to me, I was shed of my money and ego. In Turkish we say “sogan gibi soyuldum” to express losing of layers like an onion, until what remained was this desire to write.
I could not find any jobs that would keep me around. Whereas I had stability working in the government, none of the small businesses I worked in provided job security. I wasn’t eligible to work for the government because I didn’t have permanent residency and witnessed firsthand how much small business owners struggle.
Meanwhile, my partner kept doing better and better in his job and he found the confidence to leave his job to start his own fund. With the money market plunges, he is experiencing some tough days but no regrets.
I’ve committed myself to a life of writing, this is my life sentence but to bring balance to my practice, I must offer my services to my community in exchange for money. I now see that money is neither good or evil, it is simply a creation and if I honour and appreciate it, I will invite it to my life.
There’s also something miraculous that happens when you pay for something. You send a message to the universe or to your subconscious, whatever is in charge of your experience of the external world, that you value this thing and so more of it comes your way. I’d been wanting to publish a memoir for a long time, at least for nine years, but could not sit down to finish a manuscript. That all changed when I paid Louisa, who’d published two memoirs, to help me out. I valued her work and experience as a writer and was paying some sort of dues, and I thought enough of my writing talent to take it further.
So today, I have a complete first draft of my manuscript.
This exchange opened me up to consider all those times I didn’t value content. I’d been a subscriber to Brain Pickings for years but had never accepted the invitation “donating = loving” until yesterday. Then Maria Popova, the founder’s e-mail appeared in my mailbox to warm my heart. I could see her waving to me from her place in Brooklyn and felt so good for supporting something that brings me so much joy.
Little by little I am taking ownership of my money and the positive change it can make in the world to bring us better content that connects and heals our long-ignored souls.
My Money Future
So where’s it all going?
As someone not entirely loved and included in the financial system in Australia, in that I’ve not been able to come across steady work, I decided that it’s time for me to take matters into my own hands as a business owner so that I can be included in the system by paying taxes.
A huge believer in right livelihood, I meditated on how I’d see myself earning money for a very long time in line with my values, which are creativity, community and growth. What came up is that, after having written my own memoir, I’d like to offer a service to help other people within my community honour their families with a creative project and perhaps release any blocked anger and resentments from their past in the process to experience growth in their lives.
The biggest way that I was helped by writing was the healing I received from it. I could see mum and dad as people with their own set of challenges and I love them. I talk to them nearly every day, trying to organise a family reunion in Sydney at the end of the year.
If you have a treasure trove of family photos, home movies, but are too afraid to open that Pandora’s box, maybe the idea of doing it with someone who’s been there and done that would appeal. So check out my services and have a little think and please ask me any questions you may have so that I get more clear on how we may work together.
Over to you…
Have you determined your own values?
How do your investments and expenditures support these values?
Do you believe that what you appreciate (and pay for) appreciates in value? For example, if you pay for content, instead of pirating it, there will be better quality content worth your time out there in the world.