List the ways money cannot buy happiness:
- Money cannot buy respect. It has to be earned. Mostly, I have no trouble with that. Still, I remember bringing my two little grandsons up north to spend a week with me on Beaver Island. Michael was seven years old; Brandon was five. We traveled from Lapeer to Charlevoix in my Aunt Katie’s brand new Trailblazer. We flew across to the island in a pretty impressive little airplane. Then we walked across to the parking lot, where my battered and dust-covered three hundred dollar island “beater” was waiting. Michael’s little face fell. “Grandma Cindy, your car is a piece of garbage,” he said, and I believe in that instant, his estimation of me dropped a little, too. I laughed and told him, seriously, “Why, Michael, this is the best car I’ve ever owned!” I loaded boys and luggage, and we rattled off for home. I had a full week to bolster up his opinion of me. Long drives in my old car delivered them to sandy beaches in the daytime, and down tree covered roads after dark as we – all dressed in our pajamas – went to see what the island looked like by moonlight. We traveled to shops and stores and the Toy Museum; we went fishing, rock collecting, swimming and dune climbing. That old car would come to a quick stop for getting a better look at bird, squirrel or deer. or when either little boy yelled “Can!” Then, one of them would exit the car to retrieve the sighted aluminum can, for the ten-cent profit it would bring. By the time the week was up, Michael had decided my car wasn’t so bad. A shiny new vehicle in that parking lot, though, would have garnered instant respect from that seven-year-old boy!
- Money can’t fill lonely days…
- It can’t give recognition for a job well-done…
- And it can’t turn sadness around. But it often feels like it might, and I’ve frequently stopped at the store, or went on-line shopping, just to test the possibility.
- Money can’t buy love. Even though teen-agers would often try to convince otherwise. Most love comes by happy accident (as in the many good friends that have happened into my life) or undeserved blessings (as in my children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers and other family members who I am so fortunate to have in my life at all, doubly fortunate that we all love each other). Sometimes, though, you have to look for love, pursue it, or work for it. That seems, often, like a job best suited to those with youth and beauty, and the confidence that comes with those attributes. So, usually, I put ideas of love or romance “on the shelf.” I don’t think about it, or I think, “I’m too old for that.” And that works…most of the time.
- Money can’t buy all the myriad of little things that bring me joy on a daily basis: the color of the sky; wag-tail dogs; roads lined with trees; the sound of waves; sunrise, sunset and the moon and stars. All the best things are free!
List the things that motivate you:
- Money. I’m thinking of tips, here. I like money as well as most people, but there are lots more important considerations. I have left well-paying jobs (two) for reasons of moral indignation. I have chosen jobs with low pay because I thought they would be fun, or rewarding in other ways. Tips, though, are a big motivator. Doled out bit by bit, accruing over the course of a day, counted in piles of coin and stacks of bills at the end of each shift…whatever the totals, tips are a bonus. I think any job could benefit just from money being handed out at random throughout the day.
- Disappointment, humiliation, discouragement or heartbreak. Odd, but true. When I’m at my worst, I am motivated to create, to rise above the hurt and sadness and worldly judgement and reaffirm my essence.
- Deadlines. Unfortunately, though, not until they are right on top of me. We “practiced” as children (with Mom, sometimes, as co-conspirator), when we delayed all of our end-of-week housework until one hour before Dad was due to be home – at midnight – from his second shift job. We might have been playing board games or watching TV, but when the eleven o’clock news started, we were galvanized for action. Dishes, left to drain dry on the counter, were quickly put away. Counters were wiped down; sinks were polished. Clutter was gathered from the living room: magazines put back in the rack; stray articles of clothing to the laundry; toys to the back room. Someone would run the vacuum. Someone else was sent to the bathrooms, to gather the wet towels and polish the fixtures. Yet another was on sweeping detail. The ones too little to tackle major jobs were kept busy gathering and running. The kitchen and back room always needed to be mopped. Linoleum – and later Congoleum, with a built-in shine – made the kitchen pretty simple after all the chairs were tipped upside-down onto the tabletop. The back room, which had two doors to the outside and got all the traffic coming and going to the garden, always needed a good scrubbing. It was usually our last job, and the clock was ticking toward midnight. Sometimes, if time was short, we’d run a bucket of hot soapy water, and spill it out over the floor. Everybody would join in, then, to sop the water back up – with towels and sponges and mops – bringing all the dirt up with it. It was a slippery, soap-bubbly, giggly finish to our chores. I’ve never gotten beyond it! For almost any project, I torment myself by waiting until the last possible moment, or beyond. I still sometimes get that heady burst of energy that is, I suppose, an adrenaline-fueled panic. I always get the huge sense of relief and accomplishment when a job is done. What I miss out on, these days, is the fun in between: the group activity, the working together for a common cause…the giggles. These days, deadlines are just too serious.