Some people are born capitalists, while others are not. I recall the old TIAA-CREF ads showing some famous thinker and stating that some of us don’t have time to think about money. Since I’m an obscure private intellectual I feel hard pressed to put myself in such exalted company as university professors, but here I am anyway. I just don’t think much about money, other than to panic over my lack thereof. It doesn’t motivate me and as long as I can get along without too many worries, I seldom think about it. Or so it used to be. Then I bought a house. Suddenly everything is about money. This needs to be fixed, and that requires repair. Instead of spending weekends writing (as I’m fond of doing), I now try my hand at skills like carpentry and masonry. At least now the grass has started to turn brown.
I was never offered TIAA-CREF as a fiduciary option. (I can’t believe I even know what fiduciary means!) Having grown up poor I didn’t think much about things like retirement or dental care. These were things middle class people did. Now that I’m technically part of the club, I think back to being a poor kid working my summers away. I had lots of time to write in those days. It’s not that ideas for writing have stopped—they’re rather backed up—but the concerns and cares of this world have forced me to think about that thing I’d rather not face. You see, capitalism takes no prisoners. Once it starts the entire world has to play its game, otherwise the rich can’t keep getting richer. Those of us who’d like to make a living by creativity take jobs that, in turn, take our time. And more than just 8 hours a day of it. Some people don’t realize that money doesn’t motivate everyone.
Accuse me of being a utopian; I promise I won’t take offense. I can imagine a world where money would be an opt-in. I’m careful to be discreet about it, but there are frankly some of us that would work for books, should our other basic needs be covered. Secular monks, perhaps, unleashed from dogma and allowed to roam where the human mind can go. Once you start thinking about money it’s difficult to stop. You want to have a cushion that will soften unexpected eventualities—which seem to be coming somewhat more frequently these days—and every time you rub your back after a fall you think that pad should be a little thicker. Getting paid for writing? In your dreams! I’d say more about it but I think Lowe’s is open now.