Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The New Human Condition" - an editorial by UVM writer Heather Larson-Frederick

The New Human Condition
By Heather Larson-Frederick

I’d like to talk about a favorite topic, and beloved item of many, money. Yes, money. Money is prized, valued, sought after and often-used by many people every day. Some people save their money, some blow all their money, some don’t care about money, and yet others spend a lot of time figuring out how to acquire more of it. I’m here to tell you about my own experience down the money road, and what I’ve learned from it.
Ever since I can remember, money has made the world go round. My dad worked hard and long to make the green so he could buy awesome things. A home, two new cars, and a boat, just to name a few. We took weekenders and vacations. When CD players were the new and very expensive thing, my dad bought one. I think at the time, it cost around $700, which I can imagine, was akin to about $3000 in today’s inflated economy. I can also imagine all the long, hard hours my dad worked for that money. My dad left for work at about 6 o’clock in the morning, and made it back home from work about 6 o’clock in the evening. Five days a week, and sometimes Saturdays, this was my dad’s life.
Looking back, I didn’t spend much time with my dad. To be fair, when we did spend time together Dad made it count, but it was still wasn’t very much. That was my first lesson in money, money is more important than time. The lesson has proven itself true time and again over the years. In general, money means more to people and is more important than time. The time they spend with their loved ones, the time to enjoy their hobbies, the time to sit back and relish their lives.
When I got older and moved out on my own money woes followed. I was expected by my family, and the culture at large, to get a good job, work hard, make lots of money, and, most importantly, acquire the goods that would elevate my socio-economic status that would prove my success in life. That was my second lesson in money, money is the measure against which your success is determined. People are only considered successful if they have lots of money and all the material goods associated therewith.
I tried, I really did. I tried to get a fabulous career that seemed glamorous to other people and would garner me a high wage. I went to college (a few times) and tried my hand at various careers. I worked in meat packing, I managed a gas station, I worked in accounts payable, and I even spent quite a few years as an administrative assistant. Sure, I made a decent wage at each of these jobs, but I never had any money. Never. The truth be told, I hated all of these jobs and in each one, I would always daydream about the day I could escape to a better job. One that treated me better, one where I would make more money and one that I could call a career for life. That was my third lesson in money, having money will make you happy and give you a fulfilling life.
It’s the new human condition. Money makes or breaks lives and determines happiness. You know what I say? Bullshit. The minute I changed my viewpoint where money was concerned was the minute I took charge of my own life and my own destiny. Does money rule you or do you rule your money? The latter is where I firmly sit. No longer does money rule my time, my time to enjoy my life, my children, my husband, my friends and my hobbies. No longer does money define my successes and failures, I’ll define those thank you very much. No longer does money determine my happiness or how fulfilling my life is. My life is exactly what I want it to be, and it’s going exactly where I want it to.
I no longer work very many hours; in fact, I only work enough hours to pay for my necessities. Sure, I don’t have all the newest of gadgets. I don’t own my own home. Most of my furniture came from a thrift store. I don’t take big fancy vacations or drive a new fancy car. I have something much more important…my life, and I’m going to live it to the fullest. I’m going to live it for myself, not for anyone else because time fades so quickly, and I’m not going to miss a thing. I hope you don’t either. 

Heather Larson Frederick is an urban homesteader, writer, chef, and artist from Omaha, NE.  You can view her blog here:  Heather also shares a business page on Facebook with her husband, UVM editor Jeremy Frederick, which can be viewed here: 

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