This last year thus far, has been challenging. Financially, I have lived day-to-day, month-to-month never being certain that I will have enough money with which to pay the creditors, my bills, and still have enough with which to buy food, feed for my animals, and gasoline. I have been living on faith that somehow, I shall never be destitute. In the eyes of some who have much more than I, my life is already a good example of destitution.
The truth is, I am not destitute, for I have a little money coming in each month that just barely carries me to the next month. I have no savings account, and this is not a problem to me, for I have had a savings account for short periods only to find the need to use up what is there. I have lived my life with an approach that financial advisors would deem as reckless. The galling fact is that in spite of a good education, I never learned to plan. I did not have instilled in me the fear of the future, that I might not have enough with which to live. I always managed to find work. I lived my life with the innate understanding that something would always work out for me, that I would be able to meet my needs. “Need” is the key word. I rarely required or desired more than I actually needed.
I think my lackadaisical approach to the acquisition of money grew out of being the product of parents who had completely opposite approaches. My mother always worked, either as a teacher or as a secretary. My father would have a job as an administrator, which might last for a while until a conflict would arise that would leave him jobless. He despised working for others. My mother just did it, whether or not she disliked what she did. She earned every penny she was paid, and she was good at saving money. My father, on the other hand, was a dreamer. He told me one time, when I was eleven, when I asked him if he believed in God, “If there is anything you really wish for, all you have to do is focus on it, think about it, see it in your mind’s eye, and pretty soon, it is right in front of you.” I did not really understand how this was the answer to my question. Now I see that he did not view himself as separate from the power that is the Source of All That Is. He considered himself a creator of his own reality, despite how reckless it appeared to others, including my mother. The catch in this for me, in my discernment of how my parents dealt with each other, was that my father had no qualms about seeking out people with more money with which to fund his dreams. My mother insisted that whatever she earned was hers to use as she saw fit, and she despised owing debt to anyone. Therefore, when my father died in May of 1967, he owed money to at least one friend, as well as his creditors. My mother died thirty years later, with a mortgage-free home, her will in place, which designated her four daughters as beneficiaries, and her funeral expenses covered. I will never know which of these two died the happier. My father drowned in the Caribbean Sea when his Cessna 175 he was piloting through a tropical storm, off the coast of Venezuela, went down. Perhaps he drowned happy, knowing his own freedom. My mother died in her bed, having slipped into a coma due to having signed papers, “Do not resuscitate.” She had been in the hospital with pneumonia, and had come home. I lived over two thousand miles away, so I was not there when she passed, but I heard from my sister that she had a sweet smile on her face when they found her.
Now, I realize that it is good to recognize all the blessings one has, and that it is fine to be as responsible as possible for all one’s own decisions made. Ultimately, we never know what is ahead, and it is best to approach each new day with faith that one has lived as well as possible, meeting challenges without fear.
My parents led extremely challenged lives together. The combined chaos and order of their life together made for mixed messages received by their children. I see now that this was a boon for me and my sisters for we have each developed a level of flexibility that is required for living out these days, this 21st century. The future is always an unknown, especially today. That which many believed was security is actually an illusion, called “money.” The foundation required for surviving all the combined madness and beauty of this world is an innate willingness to embrace the journey, no matter how challenges manifest. This willingness based on love of life reminds me of words by Lao Tzu:
Existence is beyond the power of words
Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no
Words came out of the womb of matter;
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees to the core of life
Sees the surface,
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same,
Words making them seem different
Only to express appearance.
If name be needed, wonder names them both:
From wonder into wonder
Lao Tzu, The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu, trans. Witter Bynner
Ninth Impression (United States of America: Capricorn Books, 1962),