“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” -- Epictetus
I’m sure if I looked, there’s no end of material written on the dichotomy between money and happiness, but when everyone’s obsessed with chasing the same dream, it’s no wonder the conversation’s skewed in favour of income/capital/material wealth.
Don’t get me wrong. I know I would enjoy more money, but it’s how we use and perceive it that counts.
At the moment, me and my wife are both working hard to make sure our children have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, whether that’s cycling, in the case of Hetty, trampolining for Florrie or my eldest daughter Evie’s wish to pursue a career as an architect. We haven't set a date where we expect not to financially support our children -- yes, I know, I’ve got three weddings to think about! -- but the life we see is not the same one as now. Instead, we see a simple lifestyle: a smaller house, more time for us, closer connection with the land, growing more of our own food and giving back to the community. I know that until then there’ll be a need to continue to generate cash to enable us to live, but, at the same time, we’ll be looking at ways to consume less, live more sustainably and understand more fully the value of money. (I’d like to think I can learn a few more skills as well; I often think if I knew more about carpentry and plumbing, how much I could save on the work to my house.)
I must admit that this ‘ideal’ is a long way removed from where I started off as driven, hungry young man. For a long time, I thought success was measured by the amount of capital I could accrue, the status symbols that adorned me and the places and people I might frequent and know. But I realise now, and have done so for a long time, that I’m anything but what I own. If I would default to a metaphor though it’s to walk my talk - to live as simply as possible.
One other thing to bear in mind. I know it’s easy to have a love/hate affair with money but perhaps we’ve got it all wrong. Money is nothing without a value exchange. What if we lived in a world where we traded value for value? A pipe dream? Possibly but when we don’t live as a community, and we have such huge expectations of what we’re entitled to, it’s no wonder we sink under the weight of the economic/financial yoke. I know you’re thinking this sounds all very new-agey, but I remain convinced that as the earth’s resources deplete and we properly recognise our prolificacy, we’ll come to realise -- not in my lifetime perhaps -- how little it is we need to live a deep and purposeful life.
Onwards, forever onwards.