Money and Meaning

by J.D. Roth

Just under three years ago, I started a new blog. I’d been writing here at foldedspace for five years, and had great fun interacting with my friends and family (and the small community that had grown up around our interactions). We argued about politics, about religion, about comics, about Truth.

I started my money blog on little more than a whim. I thought I could help other people while also helping myself. Surprisingly, it worked. That site attracted a following, and at the same time it became my livelihood. Last year I made more money than I’ve ever made in my life.

But a funny thing has happened, one which a few of you have had a chance to glimpse. Though I love my work, and though I’m happy to be earning my living from writing, at some point I became a workaholic. J.D. the lazy became J.D. the driven. Was it because my work was producing so much income? Was it because of the praise I received? I don’t know.

As I became more and more engrossed in my work, I began to leave other things behind. I stopped reading. I stopped seeing my friends. I stopped learning Latin and going for walks in the country. I left a part of me behind.

Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching. I’ve been asking myself what it is I really want. I’ve dug myself out of debt and even set aside a nice nest egg (though taxes are going to reduce that from “nice” to “a little”). I’ve changed my financial habits. I’m not tempted to buy every book or magazine or videogame I see. In fact, they rarely tempt me at all. So, I no longer want money.

I think what I want is meaning. But how do I find that? To some extent, my meaning will continue to be derived from Get Rich Slowly. As I’ve said before, I truly feel as if I’ve found my vocation. I’m helping other people develop a better relationship with money. But that cannot be my only source of meaning.

Tammy, who still visits foldedspace now and then, will tell me that I’ll find meaning through God. That’s one way. But I think it’s possible to find meaning and purpose through other avenues as well. I look around at my friends, and most of them have children, and these children help to provide meaning. That’s another way, but again, it’s not for me.

I’m not sure there’s an easy answer to this question. (In fact, I know there’s not; people have wrestled with it for centuries.) What I do know is that I’m ready to broaden my horizons…

Updated: 05 January 2009

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
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