Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Living a Common-sense Life: Part 2

Be Careful Where You Go Digging Around

Naturally, in January I started out full of optimism that I would finally learn "money." I love how I used "brilliance" in that title, so sure I was of myself! I do feel some pride when I tell you that I am still at it writing down all of our monthly expenditures and categorizing them to find out where the money is going. But mostly I feel like a rabbit going down the rabbit hole: Money, I am finding out more and more now, is brimmed to overflowing with hidden meanings and insanity. Weird little habits and behaviours are reluctantly starting to reveal themselves on my homemade ledger pages. I feel as if I am now, a few months in, uncovering secrets inside both myself and my husband – secrets that have power and they live somehow in the money. Oh my goodness that sounds certifiable! Let me try to explain.

This whole thing started when I finally couldn't look the other way any longer. I could clearly see that our spending was out of control. At Christmas we both spent money purely as our emotions at the time dictated and those "decisions" revealed much more than I was at first prepared to admit. Today this article is happening because a small light bulb went off again: gardening season is starting and while I am an avid and fairly good gardener (I make part of my living working seasonally at a large greenhouse), I feel the same emotions I feel every spring. There is a reticence in my bones against pruning that first branch or digging that first planting hole. I don't want to get in there and get my hands dirty (and, I think, I don't want to make the decisions . . . in money, I feel the same thing: a powerful reluctance to get in there and make the decisions – say no, say yes, start, finish, throw away, end and begin. Yet at least with gardening, once I get in there I feel so good. I am once again together with my muse and I always find that place where I lose time and get lost in my work, a most awesome state of being, of feeling really alive in this world. I find that in physics too.

But back to money as it is here where fishy things are going on and little eccentricities are showing up left right and center. Writing everything down as we spent, or more importantly knowing THAT we were going to have to write it down, I expected to finally get a grip on this slippery eel called money. Now I am less certain. I have three months of spending history to use as reference, and I can't help but notice that while I have become quite comfortable with balancing quality versus price, and going after nutrition versus convenience at the grocery store, we have what seems to be an entirely unhealthy and unwholesome addiction to A&W breakfast coupons, for example. For two "health nuts" who are into cross-fit and cleansing smoothies, bacon n' eggers and sausage n' eggers seem to be one of our dirty little secrets – three times a week, sometimes more. I say I go there because the coffee is good and in these topsy-turvy times, it comes with free refills, something every penny pincher would agree is simply good acumen. But it isn't. It's because the same old-timers are in there every morning and they say hi and the ladies know us now and the place is homely and blue-collar and we feel it like a warm cultural blanket from our modest childhoods. We go there to feed our souls.

I am finding out that there are many examples of this inexplicable, at least to a rational mind, behaviour in the ledgers. Money, I am discovering, is madness, and there is a deep treasure trove or black stinky pit (take your pick, or both) inside money. We are doing things with it that seem to be feeding us in un-obvious ways, sometimes consciously like the breakfasts, but I suspect, looking at them again, that most are unconscious. Why a collection of air plants? Why this red T-shirt I "needed"? There is a lot of ego-feeding here. Why this expanding list of Spartan race "vacations"? Can you spell mid-life crisis? There are fears in here . . .

Just as with gardening, I live it, breathe it and dream it. And I have very little understanding of why I must buy certain things. So much can be categorized as impulse spending, but now as I sit here and mull, that too-broad category seems inadequate. I continue to write down and record our expenditures but as I do, there is an increasing sense that I must tread carefully when I try to interpret the findings. I must use a fine brush and light touch . . . there are emotional hazards here. My husband and I are two very reasonable rational people on the outside – both with long and very ingrained scientific outlooks on life. We trust our understanding and what we can see and touch and measure. But I look here and see the understory: revealed here are eccentricities, oddities and general weirdness. Trying to grasp what's going on inside our minds, hearts, souls, isn't going to be easy . . .

On a science note, I am thinking of exploring nuclear fusion as an energy source, to finish off the High Energy Science series. I also want to do an article exploring how we could adapt the process of photosynthesis into an exploitable green energy source. Finally, I think the amplitudehedron – the multidimensional theory of the particle – would be very interesting to explore further. Once the gardening and greenhouse work is under control (small dry laugh).

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