This past year I have adopted a policy of not holding on to money.
The idea is not just to spend willy-nilly. As you know, I’ve done that in the past, with spectacular results.
Rather, the idea (simply put) is to not take ownership of money in the first place. Instead of thinking that I ‘have‘ a finite amount of money that has to last me until my next student loan payment, I picture money as a river that flows through my life. I trust that I will have enough to meet my needs (I’ve not yet gone hungry in 30 years): as some leaves my custody so more will arrive, from somewhere.
[n.b. This approach requires that one believes that we live in a world of abundance, not a world of limited resources. I’m talking a general mindset here, not stuff like oil or water reserves. For example, a world where we are not jealous of others’ success …because actually there is plenty of recognition for everyone.]
It is important though that I use the money in accordance with what feels right. Thus, for example, I can’t just go out and buy a MacBook Pro in the belief that the money will show up from somewhere, as it would simply be my own greed motivating that action, and thus the chances are that I’d end up in a pile of horse plop.
However, when it comes to giving to worthy causes, the river technique really works. I don’t know how, but it does. It’s simply amazing. The more you give to others, you more you find money flowing back to yourself in even greater quantities.
The result of my scientific survey in which I have been deliberately far more generous than has been the case historically, is that all sorts of money-generating opportunities start to present themselves. It’s happened time and time again this year, and I even find myself able to put some money aside for our wedding, despite the fact that according to my budget forecast I cannot even meet my basic expenses this academic year.
I encourage everyone to give money away. It’s liberating.
Sometimes though, one is presented with difficult situations that send one straight back to the land of limited resources. Today, that happened to me, as the university’s parking services gave me my second £60 parking fine in two days. There has clearly been an unofficial change in policy, or perhaps the regular traffic warden is off sick and some jobsworth has taken over.
Yesterday I wasn’t overly upset as I only got the ticket after following instructions from a member of staff whom I incorrectly assumed has some insider knowledge of the university’s parking system (he told me to park in a registered bay). I have appealed that, and have no intention of paying. Today’s though was a little more complex. I was parked outside my house, as I have done on many previous occasions, in an area that whilst not an official parking area is often used by residents who have temporary need of somewhere to put their car.
I think the attendant must have seen the car and recognised it, and thus thought that he’d teach me a lesson by ticketing it. Again.
Technically, I’m in the wrong. But I strongly object to being made to pay £60 for something which didn’t cause anyone any harm, something that caused absolutely no obstruction and which many people do almost every day without penalty. It’s our courtyard, and we don’t mind sharing it.
I visited the university’s parking office to see what could be done. Unfortunately, whilst one member of staff was polite, kind and helpful (and I was grateful for her understanding my feelings), the other was not. She kept on butting in, gleefully telling me that there was no way that I’d get out of it.
This really upset me as she seemed to be getting a great kick out of deliberately trying to make me feel bad. It was only the second time in 4 years that I’d met someone like that on the university payroll…
I was pretty surprised by how upset I was – I actually had to leave the room very suddenly as I felt myself about to burst into tears. (What’s happening to me? What’s all this emotional stuff about?!)
After leaving the parking bunker (now armed with a temporary permit which the nice lady had given me), I wandered home in the rain, and thought about how I could deal with these feelings. I realised that one reason I was feeling so upset was that I had attached meaning to that money, that meaning being £120 less for my wedding.
…so how about if I let go? How about, if I just paid the second fine, and accepted it as part of the natural flow? Trust that the pot would be replenished. This sounded like a good idea, and thus a few minutes later I’d contacted the 3rd party parking company and given them my card details. I also realised that by doing so I was demonstrating that I was willing to pay a ‘just’ fine – perhaps this would give me a little more leverage as I attempted to get the first fine cancelled.
I felt a lot better then, and went on to eat free pizza in Bart House.
Case Study – “Making Students Matter: The Family of East Asian Studies” – now online!
I’ll blog about this next week. By then, I’d like you to have read this text :-p