Apparently not only power corrupts, money does too.
This morning I got a letter from the scholarship, the people who have been sending me around the world, making this whole last year possible. The letter said something to the effect of “Thank you for sending in your bookkeeping, we’ve reviewed it and your documentation, it looks to be in order. We notice that there’s some money left over that you didn’t need. Please return it to us at the following account number”
Was my reaction “But of course they should have their money back, so that they can use it to give someone else an experience like the one they’ve given me. Lucky me.” ? No, I immediately thought “But that’s my money! It’s not like they’d have offered to give me more if I’d overspent instead of being cautious. Grrr.”. The mere thought of financial loss immediately made me grumpy and completely drowned the gratitude I should properly be feeling that this foundation of its own accord, me not even applying for anything, offered to send me around the world, giving me this entire year of experiences and things I’d never have dared to do if not pushed into them.
I wonder if we all have this greedy side, if more always wants more, or if it’s just me. Is it because I remember having little? I don’t think so… I do remember knowing as a child that we did not have what the other children I knew had, but also that I was not truly bothered by it. True, my parents weren’t exactly well off, and I was greatly annoyed that my Mother didn’t buy my favorite brand of rye bread because it was too expensive, but we weren’t hungry, there were no holes in my clothes (apart from the ones I ripped when climbing trees) and I had all these other things the other children didn’t. Things homemade (and hence cheaper, though I didn’t think of that then) – jam from the strawberries in the garden, a new skirt or a sweater my Mother made for me (especially I remember the knitted one with my name one it). Always having a grownup there to play with and ask questions – my parents took turns being unemployed for some years, so that one could always be home with us. I was not in daycare until I was over 10, something distinctly unnormal in Denmark.
And the other children noticed it as well. Looking back with older eyes I especially remember the one girl who very matter-of-fact remarked “My parents spoil me with money. Yours spoil you with love.” A bit melodramatic perhaps, but from our frank children’s viewpoint indisputably true.
So why now this clinging to money I’m lucky to have had in the first place? Very unseemly, especially as I do not lack for anything at the moment. True, I am unemployed, but I do have a little bit left over from my job as a systems programmer last year, and it’s not like I couldn’t start looking for a job if I needed one. And I think I even have unemployment insurance somewhere.
The worst thing about it is that it took me over a dozen minutes to realise how ridiculously I was behaving. Sudden greed attacks with me usually comes mainly when I see someone with a scrumptious piece of cake or an ice cream and haven’t got any myself, so I was not at all prepared to recognise it for what it was. Scary. Especially as I know that money will do nothing at all to increase my happiness. How can it be so easy to forget and be greed-touched?
I transferred the money immediately this morning and I sincerely hope that’s the last I’ll feel of this.