There are a number of books that I’ve acquired over the years, somehow, without any recollection as to how they actually got themselves onto the shelves. I’ve looked at their spines long enough to know that they are there, collecting dust underneath the others. Two of those imposters that spring to mind are Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and The Monk who sold his Ferrari. I presume the Dad book is a tale about two young, competitive boys spitting it out in the sandpit over who’s got the better father. And the latter I imagine is about the first monk to get wealthy, buy a Ferrari, and sell it. I will read them, I am sure. As with tourist destinations, it’s not worth avoiding a visitation just because there are loads of other people wanting to discover it. It’s obviously worth looking into if it holds such a reputation. So, one day I’ll inform myself on the dads and the monk.
When it comes to money, it’s a lovely topic to talk about. Because we all have it, in abundance. We’re all loaded with endless choices on how to dish it out and flash it from our fists. I mean, look at me, I’m JK Row-lling in it. When I return home from shopping I shout, “Money, I’m home.” And I’d never have to sell my Ferrari. I’d just give it away. Less paperwork.
As much as I’d love to throw my itchy palms into the air, dancing the lottery winning dance, I simply do not know the routine. Furthermore, I was born in a third world country and am privy to the fact that poverty does indeed exist. Oh, yes it does.
Fortunately for me, and my other siblings, we were raised by a woman who educated us on the value of living a rich life versus the significance of accruing wads of wealth. Though, not exactly through any deliberate demonstration on her doctorate in easy spending. But rather through the approach to investing in accordance to her innate art of living in the moment. We could either sing for our suppers and save for our future, or suck the heads off Mozambican king prawns because they were on special at Bon Marché. We could stay at home at the weekends and plough our potato patch, or we could pack the car and head for the Eastern Highlands with a checkbook and a sharpened pencil. When the opportunities presented themselves to say yes to fun living, we knew the answer in unison. Pay now, worry later. Let that check bounce like our bodies in the back of the bakkie on a dirt road as we belt out Womack & Womack. We have some more memories to make.
And while this can be perceived as a completely naive, negligent stance on life, a whole lot of romance for a mother of four to flirt so affectionately with Risky’s cousin, Debt, she never married him. And perhaps a gentle hike across a field would have been a wiser alternative to the steep cliffs of a kopje, dodging crevices that would leave us plunging into the red. They may not have been the safest routes to the top, but our mother always showed us the most breathtakingly beautiful views along the way. I wouldn’t have wanted to see a cloud and its piercing silver lining, any other way. And with any slip, graze or blister, she always made a plan. No matter what, she always made a plan.
And that’s not to say that Madam Ovary only ran recklessly with all four of us in tow, resigned from any responsibility. No living person within my sphere has taught me about resilience, resourcefulness, and plain old hard work, quite like my mother. Just as she continues to. When the decision was made for us to leave Zimbabwe and move to Ireland it took her three weeks to put the idea into motion. She sold the kitchen appliances, our summer clothes, and some furniture, and landed in Dublin with 90 Irish punts in her pocket. Amidst the chaos, the cold and the culture change, she still had the ability to start a 1980 Volvo by thumping the engine with a golf club, in the pouring rain, covered partially by the bonnet and a shredded umbrella. And even though the undercarriage of this rusty old machine was missing, we had no qualms about Flintstone-ing our way around town, from Bedrock to Baldoyle.
So when I listened to myself the other day, talking to myself, about myself and my apparent lack of achievement in a monetary capacity, I decided to shut up. On what grounds should we measure our success by the amount of dollars we have managed to stow away in a day? The assurance that some figures are nesting somewhere securely, as a result of one’s blood, sweat, and fears is great for solid sleeping. It’s good to work hard and we do need to earn an income. Yes, we cannot exist in this world without doing the digital dance to the beat of the banks. I am aware, I am invested. But there’s another currency that exists and an exchange with ourselves that is often not nurtured, nor valued enough. I had forgotten the fundamental act of playing footsie with my own two feet, with my life, with the surety that I will always make a plan.
I had moved continents with the aid of money, earned through the sheer perseverance of working hard on rich living. I set myself up in a new country, with a new currency in search of a new profession in a new language. And the only way I would ever achieve any satisfaction in doing so, would be in resorting to my old way of living. Bank on yourself, and nothing else. And if I’m not there yet, fuck it. I’ll get there. As long as I have a golf club to get this engine going, I’ll get there. If Madame Ovary’s portrayal on living life has taught me anything, it is how to do what you have to do, with all that you have. Cultivation of what inherently drives you, is the only road to success.
Rich Mum, Poor Mum…I have had the best possible education on how to get rich or die trying. There’s my token of 50 cents for you.