This blog is not about money. In an ideal world, it (and I) would exist outside the practicalities of money. However, we live in the world that is… however we may perceive our portion of it. In it, there are very few parts left (if any) that exist outside money’s influence.
Cultures have a fascinating way of assimilating the practicalities of the systems that form them. By that, I mean that people take the practicalities of the world they know to be truths: “Money makes the world go around.”; “Everyone’s gotta work. That’s just how it is.”; “Money doesn’t grow on trees”… There’s no denying it’s true. And yet, for some, it isn’t. Not everyone goes to work a forty hour work week. Some people never work a day in their lives. Others pretty much live free from money and instead live off food they’ve grown or traded.
Still the cultural truth persists. We can see the alternatives and then still believe an incongruent, yet ‘incontrovertible’ truth. Such is the way of human psychology. And such is the way of one of the most doggedly stubborn beliefs I try to shake in order to truly be free.
In The Longest Walk NZ, I have managed to create a strange (to me) economic micro-environment: I get to do exactly what I want to do and money is no longer an issue. It’s not that I have a heap of money, so I don’t have to think about it. It’s that I have created a way to live with very few expenses and a phenomenon which people want to support. Not something they feel they MUST support, but something they happily and willingly CHOOSE to support. The act of doing so actually adds to their positive experience of life. So strong is this effect that people sometimes feel disappointed if they are not able to contribute in the way they had hoped.
Still, beliefs of my culture persist and hinder my ability to accept this. There is a feeling of guilt or hesitation to accept what is offered. A feeling that since I have chosen this path and not been forced onto it, that it is wrong to accept the charity offered. The reality is that my savings probably would stretch the whole way if I live frugally but the charity of others will mean I might have something left to start over once it’s all done.
Should it feel wrong? Or is it a cultural vestige due to be shed? There is no doubt that aside from the physical work of walking there is a lot of work to do creating, maintaining and further developing the campaign. It is, in a very real sense, a job. Without someone doing that job, the campaign would no longer function and the walking would be no real use to anyone.
I try to see the sponsorships and other offers of charity as a kind of wage. While it is awesome that so many are also giving to the cause which I serve, I find it humbling that some also choose to support me and my expenses. It is an alternative business model which I can hopefully replace with online income streams in time. For now though, I am a ‘Hobo for Hounds’. Begging bowl in hand. Struggling to redefine what money, poverty and charity really are.
I am proud to have created a virtuous circle in which everyone wins. Through simultaneously giving and receiving, donors, the welfare charities and I all benefit. Once I can make peace with that in myself, I feel that this life I live is true freedom. It may not be a permanent solution, but I intend to enjoy it while it lasts.