Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I was reading Coltin1948's blog the other day and one of his posts got me to thinking. It was the 'Marshmallow experiment' entry.

I'm a 'resigned to the inevitable' kind of guy. I'm a fairly depressed person; without suffering from actual depression, for that would be an insult to people who DO suffer from depression. Let's just say that I'm a negative thinker. I've been that way all my life.

Coltin's entry was about delayed gratification and how, if you can get used to waiting for good things and biding your time working for them, rather than wanting everything now, now, now; you'll have a better chance of a good life in the long run. I'd probably agree with that but I don't believe I've ever really delayed gratification by choice, nor have I run out and gobbled up life/goods/experiences without thought. I'm too afraid for that.

My whole life has been governed by fear and paranoia and that, in turn, has lead to mediocrity and poverty. I grew up poor and have pretty much stayed that way. It's something I've wondered at several times. You always hear stories of kids who grew up poor and worked themselves into such a state that they're now squillionaires but still don't think they have enough.

Of course, there are different types of poverty and, saying that you grew up poor is often no big thing. We always had food; we always had clothes and shoes (even if they were second-hand); we had two cars; we had a house and could afford a mortgage. Yet, there was never any money left over. Mum and dad never had any savings to speak of and there were never family vacations or anything like that. I grew up poor but I didn't grow up poor.

In spite of all this, I never felt like I really wanted for anything. Sure, there were things I wanted: an Action Jackson military jeep, or a new bike, or any of a million things that kids think they want. But somehow, without really knowing why or how, I knew my parents could never afford this sort of thing, so I never pestered them about it. I never threw a tantrum if I couldn't have something because we couldn't afford it; I never thought 'it's not fair.' It was just the way life was and I accepted it. It never instilled in me, a sense of, 'I'm never not going to be able to afford anything again.' I never became Scarlett O'Hara. I just didn't care.

The thing I think it probably did instill in me, is a hatred of money. I fucking hate the stuff. I love getting paid and taking all my money out in cash and budgeting it, because then I have nothing left. A little play money but nothing substantial. I used to be a saver. At one time, I had almost 13,000 dollars in the bank. For me, that was a LOT of money. Nowadays, I'd be like one of those guys you read about who crack the big lottery. 'Tennyson ee Hemingway; a man with only 23 cents in the bank, today won the world's biggest lottery.' The only part of that sentence that's true is the 23 cents. I never have more than a couple of dollars in the bank once payday rolls around. I do save, but usually for something. I don't save just to save. I'm not worried about a rainy day. I don't want to be like my father-in-law; too afraid to spend when on holiday and too afraid to reduce his hours at work because, 'I just don't have enough money to live on.'

I hate that attitude. EVERY DAY can be a fucking rainy day. We're human beings. No matter the circumstances, no matter your fate, no matter WHAT; human beings adapt. That's what we do. It's what we're good at. It's what we're bred for. If I don't have any money, I'll adapt. I'll accept it. I'll work through it.

Sure, I'm going to be a father soon. Yes, probably my attitude will change somewhat. But honestly, if there's one thing I'd like to instill in my daughter, it's the thought that, no matter what; no matter the lack of money/time/whatever, you'll work it out. You can accept it and you can make it ok.


The Vegetable Assassin said...

I'm pretty much the same way. I don't see the point in saving a shit ton of money for later when there's guarantee of a later even happening. And it sounds irresponsible but I need the money today. I don't earn enough after bills and rent etc. to save for anything I don't need in the near future, without sacrificing any semblance of a life I have now. If I made a lot of money, sure I'd save some. But I don't. I make an average amount. And I need it to live.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Have you been reading my secret diaries since childhood? Stop that! That stuff is personal and singular.

The more I think I'm one in a million, the more I'm shown that I'm just a dime a dozen.

tennysoneehemingway said...

VA: damn straight. I want to live now, not when I'm too old to.

UB: thank you. Maybe we're two in a million? Or three?

Bruce Coltin said...

Your kid will have the rare benefit of having an old man who reads and thinks. Can you put a price on that?

Eric said...

Do you own your possessions, or do your possessions own you? The second way is no damned way to live. Status is a useless waste of energy, the very wisest wealthy people will tell you it's all about quality.

The Dallas billionaire Ross Perot once told a friend of mine while digging in his own garden, 'Larry, see this watch here? It doesn't cost that much, but it'll last and that's why I bought it.'

tennysoneehemingway said...

Bruce: that's true. Hopefully, I can get her reading too.

Eric: absolutely right. Experience is the best possession, in my very humble opinion.

Harmony said...

Love this post. I, too, grew up poor. We didn't own a thing, but a car that was being held together by old Coke cans, wire and electrical tape. My siblings and I (6 of us) knew our limits and stayed within them. I married my complete opposite and we do not see eye to eye on money (or anything else for that matter). He's a dreamer and will do anything to bring those dreams to reality. Big house, big vehicles, big toys...and I resent all of it. I wish we could live a simple life that would allow us time to be with him. What's the point in working for all these things, when you're not around to enjoy them?