i’m in a curious state, with enough money to pay my eventual tax bill, and hopefully enough to survive the dead summer to come. Yet, if i am dealt a huge bill by the damnable French, i shall be in perdition once more. i haven’t heard from the French and am hoping their records were destroyed by a gang of rampaging Muslims, who may have mistaken the hospital records for non-Muslim literature.
i have a peculiar relation to money. When i was young, my father never had any money for my sister, mother & myself; but nonetheless we lived in huge houses and he always had several cars on the drive.
My mother would terrify me by hissing that the bailiffs would come and put us all in prison, because of my father’s recklessly growing debts. He spent money like the stereotypically drunk sailor on shore leave. When he wasn’t working, which he almost always was, he just spent money – on 2nd hand cars which were always breaking down, on koi carp which were always dying (he spent at least half a million pounds on these, probably much much more), radios (at one point he had 11 in his bedroom), CDs (one day he bought three big shopping bags, with multiple copies of the same CDs; he brusquely commanded me to put them in his CD racks and when i pointed out the 3 copies of The Best of Roger Whitaker, he had no idea how this could have happened). There was, however, no money for new clothes or enough food for myself and my sister, or holidays, or books, or anything.
My father ran away from his home in India twice – once in his early 20s, when he was kidnapped and “escorted” back by his many relatives; the second time he got away for good. He regarded his English family as something to use, unpaid servants.
It was an odd childhood, to grow up without enough food, the only clothes that fit were my school uniform, while the rich kids at my school had computers and holidays and toys. However, it was certainly amusing, in retrospect; and a good preparation for adulthood. It was also good to go without luxuries, though a little surreal to live in a house with three bathrooms, but not have enough money for school dinners.
i should have turned into an avaricious lunatic. Instead, i regard money with uncomprehending, half-resentful irritation. When i have enough to cover the next 3 months i quite happily spend money on, e.g. shoes, or give it away to starving colleagues, or friends; or i just don’t spend anything. i’ve spent little on myself of late, having found free music via spotify and free TV via Project Free TV. On account of the summer heat, i suddenly wanted to dress like a desert explorer, so i bought a half-price rucksack and likewise discounted desert explorer trousers, but have otherwise spent nothing since i blew several months’ salary on the train tickets to and from France last month, plus the plane ticket to England for a holiday i had to cancel, after dying in France – the airline wouldn’t refund the tickets so i just stayed here, working.
When i began working as my own man, paying my own rent etc., in autumn 2004, i had 300 GBP in credit. i now owe friends & family & bank about 40 times this much. Most of this is down to the 6 months in Kiel, after being fired by inlingua, the other half slowly accumulating over my 5 years of minimum wage labour, 2004-9.
Over the 5 temping years, i saved through the simple expedient of never spending any money on anything, e.g. walking 4 miles to work through a crack ghetto when i couldn’t afford the bus (at 8 am it was safe, just ugly). Each time i saved money i would lose it. Once, i managed to save about 100 GBP and then quit my job and couldn’t find another for 5 weeks – not merely using the 100 quid but having to dig deeper into my credit to survive. Another time i saved about 85 GBP then got an unexpected electricity bill which came to, yes, about 85 GBP.
Of course it would have been worse if i hadn’t saved anything but the exactness of some of these bills made me wonder if a malevolent deity were perched in heaven watching me, and whenever i saved anything he would immediately cancel it out with a corresponding bill.
Despite being just a rung above a Rambo-like homeless drifter, i’m not a Communist or money-hating egalitarian leftie. Money is simply a worldly expression of fate. i see this as i compare this life with my last. i was occasionally stark broke then but always had a safety net (rich family & friends), and these broke periods were occasional. Most of the time i had more than enough and for a good while i was more than comfortably well off.
In both lives, i haven’t been comfortable in this world, among human beings. If one understands the Fehu and Wunjo runes, one will see how my elberry poverty, or my last life’s abundance, could both express this sense of not being really human. Either having no money or absurdly too much – both make you something of a freak (not quite human).
i worry about money when it looks like next month’s rent will be difficult, but otherwise just try to spend little, and don’t think about it too much. i tend to get what i need (for example, the Kurgan spontaneously invited me to hitch a lift with him to Kassel when he visits his family), and even the periods of near-death, where it’s a choice between suicide and homelessness, are psychologically & magically useful. To be ready to kill yourself for a principle, coldly and without unnecessary feeling – and to sustain this readiness for several weeks – is invaluable, for the initiate.
Without going into death in some manner, i suspect progress will always be limited. In death, you experience freedom from not merely your world but your self. Unless you leave the world you cannot see with the other eye – the eye in the well. You may achieve a kind of power, and wisdom, but it is empty power (Saruman power), and the wisdom does not develop roots. In this sense, the parable of the sower could be taken as an initiatory parable:
And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. (Mark 4. 5 – 6)
Without the roots, it is of limited value. The world is full of failed tzaddik ha-dor. The essential thing is to escape the world. Money, as part of the world, is hard to ignore, but is merely a working-through of spiritual conditions. It seems to express my sense of separation from the world. It’s hard to know how to deal with this. i don’t see any point engaging in motivational pep talks before the mirror, spiritual difficulties are more profound & intractable.
As a start, i am forcing myself to write more regularly, on my temp memoir. This is valuable in one sense because it explores my own worthlessness in this world, my inability to get a real job. But also, my real energies are in my writing and it takes energy to change a situation.
i’ve also given a bit of money away to an impoverished teacher and my impoverished ex-MILF, on the principle of the Old English Fehu poem. Both were reluctant to take it, knowing how broke it am. i persuaded both, telling the teacher that i would only worry about him otherwise, and my ex-MILF that it was a rune working.
About a week later, i was offered work with a new language school. My highest paying work comes from a German company, who switched to this new language school a few months ago. It looked like my 25€/45 minute days were over. However, my students in a discontinued group – all beautiful women, who just like doing surreal roleplays – told the new school they wanted to keep me, so the school offered me work. It’s only 23 € /45 minutes, but this is till 10 € more than i get at McLingua, and about 3 times what i got as a temp in England. Immediately, i will have an extra 180 or so Euros a month – almost exactly the amount of money i gave my starving colleague.
i’m not exactly sure what i’m doing but i feel if i can sensitively ignore money, either not wanting to buy anything, or spending it to help others, i can shake myself loose and perhaps transform my sense of isolation and difference. i think the crucial thing is to accept my basic state – that i am not like other people, have never been, will never be – and use it, instead of listlessly moaning. Introspection only shows the need for action, to escape the magic circle of self. To be awkwardly different can be useful, can be a side product or even a condition of useful work:
Many evil things there are that your strong walls and bright swords do not stay. You know little of the lands beyond your bounds. Peace and freedom, do you say? The North would have known them little but for us. Fear would have destroyed them. But when dark things come from the houseless hills, or creep from sunless woods, they fly from us. What roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in quiet lands, or in the homes of simple men at night, if the Dúnedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?