Being in nature and its vast beauty with only what I could carry in a pack brought a sense of wonder, contentment, and joy that needed very little to sustain it. The backwoods camping trip to Yellowstone showed me something I can’t unsee.
We create systems that require all sorts of foundations to stand up. I’ll be happy when: I earn a certain amount of money, my family looks a certain way, I achieve xyz-fitness goal, I have this type of house and car, and so on.
We work and work, trading our time for money in the early days then trading our money for more time as we age and enter into our last years.
I was reminded of this reality just this week as I pushed coins into a parking meter. Money for time, time for money.
There is a precarious balance to the economy of our lives. Save enough now to support yourself when you aren’t working later. Spend enough now so you have experiences you may not get to experience later.
Needs, wants, responsibilities, obligations, saving, spending, investing, retirement...these are all words and ideas that affect the time-money tradeoff.
It’s a balance, and one that can have serious consequences if not done well. More than telling you to budget well and make good financial decisions, though, I think I just want to hone in on where I began.
Middle of nowhere. Surrounded by mountains and wildlife. Gazing at a night sky void of light pollution. Billions of stars. All I need to survive in a backpack.
I could feel that sense of wonder and awe with $1 or $1,000,000 to my name. There is a simple beauty readily available, excluded from the economies and complex systems we create to sustain our “happiness.”
It’s here now. It’s all around us. And we rarely see it. We continue to strive, to fight for things we think we need, to hoard and store up, to spend and waste, to try to become something different, better...giving up time and money for the wrong things.
Richard Rohr writes,
“All creatures seem to like being what they are and to accept what they’re not. But humans, we’re a different story, aren’t we? We don’t like being what we are; and worse, we always want to be someone else. We’re mimetic and envious. We’ve traded our instincts for aspirations, wishing we were thinner, or taller, or more handsome, or whatever, anything other than this little incarnation that we are for one gorgeous moment in time.”
There’s a good chance you’re reading this amidst the busyness a “work day” can often carry. Would you just pause for a second and acknowledge that the simple fact that you are reading this right now means you have enough?
You are enough. You are loved. You have an immense opportunity before you. But you don’t need to pursue it with the heavy burden of the expectations the world has placed upon your shoulders to be some idealized version of a “successful, beautiful” human.
Created in the image of God, in this “one gorgeous moment in time”, to participate in the freely-given, divine dance God has called us to. Some call it the “Kingdom,” entered in by grace, and it’s all around us for those who will see.