One of my favorite movies is "Blow." It's a true story of George Jung (played by the fabulous Johnny Depp), who became part of the Pablo Escobar drug cartels and was largely responsible for smuggling cocaine into the U.S. in the 60s and 70s. Now, obviously, this isn't a "feel-good" kind of movie...but it's intriguing and Johnny Depp is at his best.
My very favorite scene in the whole movie is in the opening few minutes when George, as a young boy, is talking to his father, played by the amazing Ray Liota. His father's self-made business has just gone under and they are in a precarious financial position, teetering on bankruptcy. George is expressing concern over the fact that they are out of money and how his prissy, high-maintenance mother will take this news. Without missing a beat, his father looks at him and says, "Money isn't real, George. It just seems like it is."
This has become my new favorite one liner..."Money isn't real." Because, it isn't.
Coincidentally, Jamie and I just recently watched the newly released HBO film, "Too Big to Fail," about the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing bailout of AIG by the federal government. It was fascinating how our government and our society placed so much blind faith in Wall Street. CEOs that were taking home millions of dollars in bonuses each year and even just the "peons" that were bringing home six figure salaries. Listening to the numbers they were throwing out was mind boggling...and frightening. As Jamie said, "There is no one on this planet, no job, that is worth tens of millions of dollars a year." Agreed. And how sad is it that our financial "gurus" make exponentially more than our congressmen, senators, and even our president? Or our soldiers? Or the police and firefighters that risk their lives to protect us? What is wrong with our society that this is how we prioritize? No matter what you think of the government, it says something about how we value these roles when the President of our country makes significantly less than the president of a bank.
Watching the movie, there was a human part of me that had a small amount of compassion for these people who were watching their entire lives crumble beneath them. But, the bigger part of me that looked at Jamie and said, "Money isn't real."
I watched the story of these CEOs and bank higher-ups whose lives collapsed under their feet, I kind of thought it was a good lesson. Their whole lives were built upon a falsehood that having millions of dollars, multiple homes, fancy cars, and expensive clothes bought them security and made them infallible...that they were better than the rest of us because they could buy things the rest of us can't even imagine being able to afford.
Now, I will readily admit that having money certainly makes life a little easier and less stressful. But, I can't even imagine what it would be like to be able to buy whatever we want whenever we want, without thinking about how we'll pay for it. And though I would love to win the lottery, I don't want to lose the values that we have now...the values that make us think about what we're purchasing, how we're going to pay for it, and where the money is coming from. Those values have taught us that we have to work for and earn the things we have...and that we aren't immune from the ups and downs of life. We save money so that we don't have to worry about "what if?" We've had times where we were more flush and had a lot more discretionary income, and we've had times where we're squeaking by, paycheck to paycheck. And guess what I've discovered?
Money isn't real...it just seems like it is.
Because no matter how much or how little money we've had in our lives - and even going back to my childhood - I don't think about the "richer" times as the "happier" times. The happiest times have been almost the opposite in a way...camping trips in the mountains as a kid, fishing trips as an adult with my husband. Sitting in a whirlpool tub in a cheap bed and breakfast, drinking a $10 bottle of wine, bike riding in our neighborhood parks, watching fireworks on the 4th of July at my in-laws, drinking cheap wine on the patio at Marc and Sarah's. None of this required a big house, or a big boat, or shoes that cost more than my house payment. Nor should they...what IS real are relationships and the values you carry in this life.
And none of the thing that matter can be bought...and none will collapse with the failure of Wall Street.
2 years ago