I know just about every time the Ya’s and I get together the subject of money or savings come up. Since all of us retired as state employees….teachers and social workers…we all live on a limited (popular phrase- fixed) budget.
There is not a one of us who lives a frivolous life or throws money away. We all share the same values when it comes to our life’s expenditures.
We know how lucky we are to have a great state health plan (as state retirees) and are truly thankful for it. Whatever “limited” salaries we received as teachers….has certainly been made up by the expenses of paying (in my case) my on-going cancer treatment expenses for ten years. I have no clue what I would have done without these health care benefits I received and continue to receive. The other Ya’s agree…since they too have faced accidents, surgeries, extensive dental care or like Jackson two knee replacements just recently.
With all this said, however, there is one dilemma that seems to repeatedly happen to each of us. No matter how hard we try to save and put money aside for a “rainy” day…some unexpected cost will pop up that strangely matches the almost exact amount of money we have been earnestly saving for weeks or months or years. It never fails to happen. We see our vision of doing something fun and exciting perhaps or purchasing something for someone we want to give a gift to… dissipate like dreams in the morning.
We find ourselves lamenting over these episodes practically every time we get together. One part of us recognizes the fact that it was nice to have the money for this or that emergency but the other side of us bemoans the fact that we tried so hard to build up a little nest egg of security for a special purpose…only to see it taken away to pay for something mundane and boring…like household appliances or heating/air conditioning units. Necessary but depressing.
It is frustrating, sometimes, because we have to start over building our nest egg …only to experience the same thing repeatedly. (I often wonder if I didn’t continuously rebuild my “nest egg” would the car start behaving better or the appliances continue to run ceaselessly?)
So when I came across this little spiritual anecdote…suddenly an idea turned on that perhaps explains this continuing saga.
“A Check on Life”
A business executive was deep in debt and could see no way out. Creditors were closing in on him. Suppliers were demanding payment. He sat on the park bench, head in hands, wondering if anything could save his company from bankruptcy.
Suddenly an old man appeared before him. “I can see that something is troubling you”, he said.
After listening to the executive’s woes, the old man said, “I believe I can help you.”
He asked the man his name, wrote out a check, and pushed it into his hand saying, Take this money. Meet me here exactly one year from today, and you can pay me back at that time.
Then he turned and disappeared as quickly as he had come. The business executive saw in his hand a check for $500,000. It was signed by John D. Rockefeller, then one of the richest men in the world!
I can erase my money worries in an instant! he realized.
But instead, the executive decided to put the un-cashed check in his safe. Just knowing it was there might give him the strength to work out a way to save his business, he thought. With renewed optimism, he negotiated better deals and extended terms of payment. He closed several big sales. Within a few months, he was out of debt and making money once again.
Exactly one year later, he returned to the park with the un-cashed check. At the agreed-upon time, the old man appeared. But just as the executive was about to hand back the check and share his success story, a nurse came running up and grabbed the old man. “I’m so glad I caught him!” she cried. “I hope he hasn’t been bothering you. He’s always escaping from the rest home and telling people he’s John D. Rockefeller.” She then led the old man away by the arm.
The astonished executive just stood there, stunned. All year long he’d been wheeling and dealing, buying and selling, convinced he had half a million dollars behind him. Suddenly, he realized that it wasn’t the money, real or imagined, that had turned his life around. It was his new found self-confidence that gave him the power to achieve anything he ever imagined.
(Source: Spiritual Short Stories....Cade)
It dawned on me after reading this anecdote that we are supposed to live on faith… not nest eggs. Gilda Radner, the talented actress and comedienne, who died of cancer far too young, said it best in her farewell book : It’s Always Something.
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
So until tomorrow… “There is no real security except for whatever you build inside yourself.”
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
Yesterday was a perfectly wonderful weather day for rain lilies and me….I had the windows open and as I sat working on my blog the coolest breezes blew in…it was overcast and mid-70’s…a wonderful hiatus from the hot sticky humidity we have endured so far this summer.
…And look at this beautiful day lily in Anne’s front yard…the lightest shade of pink with yellow designs throughout. Gorgeous!