Money Doesn't Buy
Happiness. But Tell That to Poor Folks
Happy new year, everyone! Hope your vacation (if you got one) has been a healthy and restful one. For me, personally, this Christmas turned out to be very fruitful. On top of some time off and quality time with loved ones, I’m having a blast on a second play through of Chrono Trigger, and I even installed (finally) a Little Free Library in our front yard with the help of my pops.
This year’s gifts were pretty thoughtful, (cuz some years they’re not). But the biggest surprise this year was a nice substantial windfall of cash. And I’m not writing this to brag, in fact, my intention is to to do the opposite, to show how grateful I am. I’m not gonna go into the details of who or where the cash came from, it’s irrelevant. But because of said gift I’ve been able to cross a few big things off of my productivity list. Some major things, really, things that have been a slow trudge saving up for. You scrimp and save a nice chunk, but then some shit happens and you need to handle it, and then that chunk for that big project is gone and the project is still on hold. But then this unexpected gift comes and just like that, poof!, they’re tackled. It’s incredible what a bit of money can take care of. Maybe the more well-to-do won’t realize that, but us working folks do.
As a working artist when I say the struggle is real it’s truly an understatement. Being poor really teaches you the value of having certain things, especially expensive things like cars and computers. You learn to take care of what you have because you can’t just go out and buy another. You have to make it work and keep it working. I still have and use a laptop I purchased in 2010, and it was refurbished then when I bought it. Before that I purchased an old floor model tower running Windows XP with the most bare-bones basic specs. It didn’t come with a monitor or mouse or keyboard. Just the tower. But man, I took care of that one and made her sing until the hard drive fried in a thunderstorm.
As I’ve been holding down a regular basic job the last seven years I’ve since learned to tinker with computers. Because I’ve been able to do so much with so little I’ve become fascinated with how easily people throw away the old model and purchase the new. It’s crazy because with a tweak or two here and there or a with single upgraded part the machine can run like new for next few years. Since I have a steady income I have been able to spend money on old machines and parts, free to tinker away and see what I could bring back to life. I’ve since become confident in refurbishing old machines; I’m typing this out on an 2012 MacBook Pro that I just updated with a solid-state hard drive, partitioned out and built from the ground up with all the apps and software I need (it’s a little beast), and it’s now off my list and ready to rock. I’ve learned so much with all the hands-on experience taking apart these machines and putting them back together, but then I can’t help but think if I had a bit more money back then to further this “research” I could have been proficient a lot sooner.
Which brings me back to these unfinished projects and the expense checklist. Some of these items were starting to rack up years. I’m a bit of a completionist so mentally it’s hard to move on if you can’t cross things off your list. And sometimes the things you are working to cross off are held back because something foremost needs to be completed, like building a machine to help you knock out the next thing. But the time goes by as you scrimp and save and wait. Time that could be better spent working on the new ideas, but then those new ideas would be better serviced if you had those resources you were waiting for in the first place. Funny how in certain amounts and circumstances money can buy you time.
My point is it’s crazy what a bit of cash can do or free up. I will never not be astonished by what money can improve on in my life, and a part of me hates that an inanimate piece of paper with numbers can have so much influence on my life, in all of our lives. My wife is a high school teacher, so she also knows the feeling of the money being tight. Every so often we take a look around at how far we’ve come, what kind of life we made for ourselves and acknowledge that we will not take it for granted. We certainly know the struggle and we would preferably not go back to how things were before we got our shit straight. This is why I’m a big advocate for giving everyone money, from whoever has it all, the government, corporations. Just give it to them. Doesn’t matter if they earned it or not. Go into their bank accounts and add a few zeroes, you won’t feel it.
Money can’t buy happiness, sure, but it’s hell of lot easier to be happy when the bills are paid, the car is working and you have food in the fridge. And while my elation may come simply from crossing things off of my project list, I no doubt feel a bit lighter and happier stepping into the new year.