May 20 2009

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Money Matters

Posted at 10:06 am under Blog Post

Even though I don’t consider myself a materialist, I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about money.  Who hasn’t?  For most of us living in middle-class America these days, money is more about survival than it is the endless acquisition of goods.  My wife, Judy, and I are concerned about keeping a roof over our heads, food in the cupboards and the other basics of life.  We worry about future prospects for some kind of retirement, health care, and all the rest of it.  These are hard times, certainly – not nearly as bad as the Great Depression, we are told, but worse than anything we’ve ever seen before.  And we keep wondering when it’s all going to turn around.

The other day Judy remarked that springtime seems especially beautiful this year.  I agree, it is.  Why is that?  I suspect that it has something to do with survival, with all the time and energy we’ve devoted to money matters since the economy took a turn for the worse.  After a long pow-wow about cutting back our expenses, just in case, we looked up from our porch chairs and were pleasantly surprised to find the world just as beautiful as it has always been – as if money doesn’t matter at all.  How strange.

Money does matter, and what we are experiencing in America these days is what most of the people on this planet deal with every day.  Many of them are worse off than the average unemployed American – much, much worse off.  I read somewhere recently that a billion people go to bed hungry every night.  That’s almost one in six people.  Simple facts like this keep things in perspective.

How dare I ramble on and on about the wonders of wild nature while a billion bellies are growling, when the future is so uncertain!  Sometimes I am ashamed of my wild thoughts and feel guilty about the long walks in the woods that I enjoy while so many people are suffering.  Then someone else mentions the scent of lilacs in the air, the rat-a-tat of a woodpecker knocking, or the luxuriant feel of a handful of dirt.  Then I nod my head in deep reverence.  These are things that keep us going.  These are things that matter.

What is the point of living if there is no joy in it?  What is easier to enjoy than a colorful sunset, a cool breeze in the morning, a few notes sung by a songbird, or anything green?  When one’s belly is full, of course.  I don’t know how to turn the economy around or how to fix all the world’s woes, but I do know that we’ll be in deep trouble the day we loose our appetite for the simple pleasures of life.  Without it we would be only so many desperados bouncing off each other in search of a quick fix.  So let’s try to enjoy the things commonly found in nature even as we take care of the difficult business at hand.

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