53 | The Money Changed Everything

Where does your mind go when you read the phrase, “The money changed everything”?

In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I want to share points from our recent Haven discussion when we used this prompt to chat and play.

Where did the money come from? What difference did it make?

Before our gathering, I stumbled on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents called “Reward to Finder“. The story is about Carl, who finds some money in a gutter on his way home from work. Instead of returning it to its rightful owner (in exchange for an unspecified reward), as he promised his wife, Anna, he keeps it hidden in his attic. Eventually, Anna discovers that he is counting the money and demands a share. She threatens to go to the police if Carl doesn’t comply. As she spends the money, the situation escalates. Ultimately, they both decide to take action. This changes everything.

It was like poison; it got into our bloodstream.
Normal life became something obscene.
We couldn’t see straight. I lost you in the haze.
Neighbours hear banging through the walls of this doorless maze.
A dark cloud hanging like a fur coat.
In limbo, awaiting the verdict.

Words inspired by Reward to Finder

The story highlights a familiar scenario we may have encountered in various situations. The arrival of money can often trigger possessiveness, control, greed, and envy, causing relationships to crumble. This can happen dramatically, as depicted in the story, or gradually over time. Over time, resentments build up, stories take hold in the characters’ minds, beliefs shift, values change, and people stop seeing people. Instead, they see obstacles, hindrances, opportunities, and gold mines. But perhaps, instead of bringing about fundamental changes, money reveals what was already there.

But The Money Can Make a Positive Difference

It was interesting to notice how my personal response to the prompt had a negative flavour. This attitude might be called “Why does money always ruin good things?” There are many examples of this. But I wanted to explore how money can positively change everything. That would be the first place people go in response to the prompt.

An unexpected gift that took the pressure off or saved the day, approval for the loan that got the business off the ground, or the grant that transformed the community.

What Would You Choose To Do If Money Wasn’t an Obstacle?

What Would You Choose To Do If Money Wasn’t an Obstacle? is a classic coaching question. But it’s also an interesting one to dissect. The responses seem to vary depending on whether having a vision precedes the availability of funds or vice versa.

On one hand, we may ask, “What is something you would love to do but can’t due to a lack of resources?” Perhaps there is a particular project you would love to undertake, a place you would like to visit, or changes you would like to make. In other words, if you had the money, you would know exactly what to spend it on. For me, it’s finishing my album. Incidentally, if you have £5000 lying around (or know someone who does), gimme a shout!

The other way of reading the question is, “If you suddenly came into a chunk of money, what would you do with it?” It’s the “What would you do if you won the lottery?” question. Responses tend to be more vague. We would “probably” buy this or that, replace some stuff, give it away, or invest it. The possibilities are broader, but they are also potentially less focused.

A Highly Sensitive Drive To Enable

There was a thread in our discussion as we imagined the difference money could make in enabling desirable stuff to emerge in the world around us. Once the bills are taken care of and there’s enough yarn to knit with, we might look beyond our personal situation and into families, neighbourhoods, and communities, where money could change things for good.

Unconditional Giving

This opened a conversation about gifts. Some people love giving but are uncomfortable receiving gifts. Even when there are no tangible strings attached. Our transactional market mentality travels deeply within, around, and between us. Likewise, we might ponder whether giving money unconditionally to support a cause, a student, or an artist is truly possible. Or is there always a low-level entitlement to results? Is a gift really a gift if we want a particular outcome to emerge from giving it?

This was a beautiful thing to ponder because it speaks to the unconditional belief in other people’s vision for their work. How often does money come with strings attached, contractual obligations that compromise and control the creative vision?

I’ve seen this happen to musicians and songwriters over the years, who live the dream and get the record deal, only to realise that it’s not about the art; it’s about the money. The money is obviously an investment, not a gift. It’s not a case of someone financially supporting the potential creation of something they believe in for its own sake; it’s about backing an artist they believe will make them profit.

Of course, that’s how an industry works, and its underpinned by business deals. But are there other ways to think about investment in the creators we believe in? I suppose it’s the beauty of Patreon and Bandcamp, where we can directly support our favourite artists and creators. Everyone has different motives underpinning their support, but ultimately these platforms allow us to give to the people and work we want to see flourish.

Questions For Reflection: The Money Changed Everything

We used the following questions for further reflection.

  • What would you choose to do if money wasn’t an obstacle?
  • What is something that money makes more challenging?
  • What might society look like if people didn’t need to worry about making money to survive? How do you think people would use their time? What values/priorities would emerge?
  • What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about money?

We have an open discussion in The Haven and a space to share anything you come up with – I’ve added some unfinished poems and an attempt at a painting. Seeing how different people interpret these prompts and answer those reflection questions is great fun. It expands horizons and helps untangle all kinds of things that might be causing frustration and stuckness.

Join us over at The Haven

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