A life without money or almost no money, is this really possible? I knew the answer ever since my mind is young for I grew up in the provinces. I can even spend a week there with only a hundred in my pocket. I learned how to take care of my own self early; moreover, I am a princess of nobody, so spending a weekend without money is just a piece of cake.

I’m not a regular mall-goer or a certified lakwatsera, so I was at home the whole weekend. I was raised having a simple life and came to love living like that. But since I’m here in Manila, which is definitely not province-like, added the twist of that special weekend. I had to cook my own meals (I don’t really cook because I’m a newbie at it, yet I have no other choice for my parents went out for a short vacation) and had to be contented with a bowl of ramen for breakfast (actually I ate instant noodles; I just want to call it ramen to alleviate my frustration), corned beef and meat loaf for lunch and omelet for dinner. Aside from the cooking, the rest of the weekend was spent like any usual weekend – watching anime ‘til I felt hunger, and pondering on some thoughts while resting.

“Wealth, my on, should never be your goal in life. … True wealth is of the heart, not of the purse. Hafid, so far so far as material wealth is concerned, there is only one difference between myself and the lowliest beggar outside Herod’s palace. The beggar thinks of only his next meal and I think of the meal that will be my lst. No, my son, do not aspire for wealth and labor not only to be rich. Strive instead for happiness, to be loved and to love, and the most important, to acquire peace of mind and serenity.” [words from Pathros, a character in Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World] “But these things are impossible without gold. Who can live in poverty without peace of mind? How can one be happy with an empty stomach? How can one demonstrate love for his family if he is unable to feed and clothe and house them?” Hafid ( Pathros’ adopted son) responded to his father’s words.

Honestly speaking, anyone can live with less money and live decently and not suffering like the stereotype of a man with less money living in slum places and begging for money or food. Yet people kept on working really hard to get rich as if money is the only way to achieve their goals, to satisfy their needs beyond just surviving and having a decent life that some even sold their souls as the demon’s minions for gold. They want money for their own. Then I asked myself why are people doing this? Simply put, people want to be happy. But is real happiness attainable through money? “In reality, how much of man’s desires come true with money alone?” a character in the anime series (Nana, by Mad House Studio) I’m currently watching said. I would bet a thousand that most of us would say happiness is something that can’t be bought. Even as a kid, I fully understand that money can’t give me the happiness and satisfaction that I longed for. Though I admit having money in your hands can make people happy for a day or so, it won’t last any longer. Maybe, people seek money because of their fears – fear of hunger, fear of being neglected, etc. — or maybe after so many generations of men, the love for money has been part of the subconscious of the newly born generation. Somehow, some people want power using wealth. May it be fear, need for happiness, the work of the subconscious mind or the need for power, the fact remains that people want money – well, there are few exemptions. And after they get all the money they want, even if they don’t admit it, their hearts are never satisfied and their souls are weeping. As what Reverend Father Alex Jovilla would tell us in almost every mass he lead, God has given us more than enough for our need, but not enough for our greed. Men have gone to living this materialistic life, and it’s hard to change that. If only men would learn how to use things and love people and not use people and love things (Fr. Jovilla might add if he’s writing this reflection). If we could only think of living for life’s sake and not money, I’m sure no one would think he/she is poor. Man never learns, I guess, that until today the world is still violent. But then again, I could change myself at least.

Indeed, money has become a very powerful thing in this world. It is a source of power in a capitalistic world – but any power can be good or bad. There’s nothing wrong to have money, the difference lies on how we use it. Although money is no more than a temporary thing that will leave temporary marks in my life — for it is something for me to grip forever – yet it is a tool that I could use. I know God gave me the opportunity to earn more than others can for a purpose. And that purpose is to use the power of money to change other people’s lives. Even some small deeds will do. Like anyone else, I’m supposed to be a passing wind, but even the slightest breeze can move the sedge. And from this, I can find real happiness that Pathros is referring to.

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