“For the love of my hammer is the root of all evil.”
“The lack of my hammer is the root of all evil.”
“I love my hammer. I love everything about it.”
“My hammer is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”
You probably get where I’m going with these quotes. Most of them sound absolutely ridiculous. But, when you replace “my hammer” with “money”, do they take on a new meaning to you? In essence, they shouldn’t. Here’s why.
New Yorkers imbue money with traits that it just doesn’t have. So many people have emotional baggage surrounding their relationships with the currency they must use to survive in society.
Some New Yorkers try to get rid of their money as quickly as possible. Some hoard it at the expense of all other aspects of their lives. Some ignore it and some think about nothing else but it. Unfortunately, none of these approaches are likely to inspire happy and healthy individuals.
Imagine what would happen if we all gave that same gravitas to a hammer. Or a spoon? Or a pen? Do you know anyone that would stop at nothing to collect as many hammers as possible? I know I don’t. It doesn’t make sense, right?
And, just like a hammer, if New Yorkers do nothing with their money, it will do nothing for them. If you use your hammer to build a home for an underprivileged family, you’ve done a good thing. If you use your hammer to make a hole in your wife’s head, you’ve done a bad thing (sorry — I’ve been watching too much Forensic Files). But, unless you pick it up and do something with your hammer, it will continue to be the inanimate object that it is. Money is the same.
So, why do some New Yorkers obsess over money? Well, because money is a tool, but it’s not just a tool. It’s one of the most powerful tools that we can wield. In a world where money is our main currency and our most common source of commerce, it becomes a very important tool to have. (Most of us New Yorkers are more likely to pay for our chickens these days with Venmo rather than with a cart full of wood).
Fortunately or unfortunately, we live in a city that uses money for pretty much everything. If you don’t have money in New York, you won’t be able to pay for basic human needs like food, water, and shelter. Whether you or anyone else wants to embrace the idea of money as currency, if you operate in the majority of places in the world, you will be forced to embrace it or run the risk of perishing for a lack of it.
Here is the good news, though. It is your privilege, as the owner of however much money you currently have, to give each of your dollars (or euro or yen) a job to do. It’s your decision whether you want to use your pieces of currency in New York for good or evil (or for neither).
Let’s imagine that you have five little bits of currency in your pocket. Imagine that you carefully strap each bit of currency to the leg of one of your personal messenger pigeons like in Game of Thrones. You secure your currency, whisper an important destination into each pigeon’s ear, and gratefully watch as they flap away to leave New York to complete their missions.
Now, are you Arya Stark or Cersei Lannister? It depends on where your pigeons are headed. But guess what? The currency is still the same. It’s what you do with it that makes a difference.
Everyone in New York has their own relationship with money (it usually has something to do with how you were raised). You can absolutely have a relationship with money. The problem occurs when you are not aware of or have not unpacked how and why you feel the way you feel about the currency that our society will continue to utilize for most transactions.
If you have not taken the time to stop and think about — first, how you feel about money, and second, how you want to use what money you have, you’re doing yourself a severe disservice. If you know why you make the decisions you make with your money, that’s awesome. But, if, like many people, you get paychecks and fork out money without a second thought, you might want to take a moment to reflect.
Money is a tool. But only if you use it. Will you let your tool hang in the toolshed without the opportunity to work for you? Or will you consciously use your tool to change New York and the world at large for the better?