Things Money Can’t Buy

I am anti-money. My form of budgeting is to just not spend more than I make (which, as a teacher, can get a little tricky, especially when we only get paid once a month). If I could live in a world that trade and bartered for goods and services, instead of one that demanded a cash-transaction, I would be very happy. Like, “hey, you lend me your wrench, and I will bring you a cantaloupe”, or, “hey, you shovel my driveway for you, and I will bake you cookies”, or, “hey, you fix the side of my house for me, and I will help you move”. As we all know from The Beatles, money can’t buy love, but there are many other things money also cannot buy:

1. Physical fitness and good health: It is true that more money might be able to get me a better trainer, membership to a fancier gym, and allow me to afford trips to Whole Foods, but that is about the extent to which money can help me. I still have to do what my trainer tells me to, I still have to show up to the gym, and I still have to choose to eat those Whole Foods selections (and not the pizza/popcorn/ice cream/candy that is so tempting). Money could potentially buy me liposuction and a new nose, but it certainly is not going to grow my muscles for me, nor can it build my endurance or prevent clogged arteries; that’s up to me.

2. A tow out of the snow pile: The Corolla met it’s match in yesterday’s blizzard; the little car that could turned out to be the little car that got stuck on the hill because it couldn’t catch momentum to make it home. So, I had to call my trusty room mate to come save me. Sure, if I were a millionaire, I might have been able to call a helicopter to come lift me out, or I might have been able to afford nicer tires and windshield wipers that could have made my driving in the blizzard more pleasurable, but at the end of the day, Mother Nature does her thing, and no matter who you are, what title in society you have, how much money you make, you are still going to get stuck by the snow storm (or the hurricane or fire or earthquake).

3. An education: I am sure somewhere, someone has attempted to purchase a college diploma, but I would hope that The Academy is honorable enough to revoke that. As people who have obtained college degrees, we know how much work we have put into it, and we want to make sure that anyone who acquires our same status has the do the same amount of work. Sure, money can allow me to get into a more ‘prestigious’ school, maybe better tutors, and maybe I can afford to pay someone to write a paper for me. But, when it comes time for the test, I still have to study the material. I am still the one who has to go take the grueling test, and potentially pull the all-nighter. I still have to devote four years of my life to taking classes and reading books. I still have to put in the work.

4. Good company: Much like love, money certainly cannot buy good company. Money might be able to get me into swankier clubs, and money might be able to purchase me nicer drinks so my hangover the next day isn’t quite so cheap, but it certainly cannot buy me the fun, the laughter, the inside jokes that ensue with good company. Those moments are a transient human experience that cannot ever be bought (because, if they were, they are forced and not sincere). Money could never have bought me that time my sister’s and I started a dance party at the Grizzly Rose; it could never have bought me that time my best friend and I went to the Snoop Lion concert, or that time I slipped and fell during dance practice.

5. Basic human existence: I went to see Jamie Lynn Spears this weekend, and couldn’t help but notice her VERY large and sparkley diamond ring, and the bags under her eyes. Sure, money can buy her a nice ring and potentially some foundation to cover up her tiredness, but the fact of the matter is, she was still tired, and still had to suffer from that. Money can buy really nice hair extensions and a keratin treatment, but that still doesn’t change the fact that you have thin, frizzy hair underneath. Money can buy you coffee and Redbulls, but you are still lacking sleep. Money can buy you ice cream and chocolate and romantic movies, but that still doesn’t cover up your heartbreak.

All in all, money can buy us many things, but it can’t buy us work. I believe that, as people, we should always be working. Work makes us better people.

Now, first we should define what constitutes “work”. “Work” does not necessarily just mean showing up to a job, punching in and out a time card. “Work” could include raising a child, it could include landscaping a backyard, it could include reading and writing and doing Sudoku puzzles.

As humans, we are always caught between two opposing forces: individual desires and societal expectations, the id and the ego, the thing we want to do, and the thing we have to do. I believe that, inherently, humans are lazy, but work makes us better people, and money always seems to be tied to this concept.

When we don’t work, we lose reality of the world, and we fall into traps of judgement, and we have the potential to let money infiltrate our motivations. The human brain craves stimulation, and when we don’t provide it with stimulation, our brains create false stimulation. This takes place in many different forms: we create drama, we enter into forms of paranoia, we over-analyze situations, we start to see things that may not actually exist. We spend money we should not, we engage in purposeless activities, we fall into temptation. I know that last summer, I took a week off from work–no school, no poms, no second or third job, and just about went crazy (stopped showering, acquired Albert Einstein hair, slept at super odd hours, talked a mile a minute–you know the drill), and realized, within that week, I can never not work.

And, it’s not necessarily the monetary value that I get from work. Sure, it’s really nice to be able to pay my bills, and do fun things, but it is in intrinsic value of work that is most motivational: the pride I have from physical fitness, from obtaining a college degree, from the good company I am surrounded with, and from the reminders that I am human.

Money certainly can buy a lot of things, but money certainly cannot buy quality of life, and it certainly cannot buy happiness.

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