Karmic Economics, Life of Carmen, Uncategorized

Lend it, spend it, give it away

Money needs to keep moving. Money is energy and like fat molecules moving through the bloodstream, it needs to be constantly flushed and recycled. If not used it clots and festers and ultimately shuts down the system. Keep it flowing. Lend it, spend it, give it away.

Money karma comes around fast and just because you don’t have a lot of cash is no reason – in fact it is the worst reason – to hoard it. Wade Davis tells a story of a tribesman who was given a box of matches, and went from person to person in the village, giving a match to each – knowing that sharing is key to survival. If you had a basket of apples you would share them with your neighbours, and they would come to your door with an apple crisp in a pan. Money is no different. We should use it wisely and redistribute the excess intelligently. Share what you have and ask for what you need.

I find that lending is a very handy way to activate money.

I  recently made two small but significant loans. My dear friend Robin needed some cash to pay a carpenter friend to help build a structure at her Edible Landscape farm on the Sunshine Coast. She was telling me her problem, and how she really needed to start the structure right away. I was listening and commiserating, and suddenly it struck me, and I was amazed that it had not crossed my mind before – I could lend her the money she required. Her business is doing well, and one day she will come into some money,  so there is a high chance the loan will be repaid in good time – but more importantly, I thought about all the good work Robin does in the world. I remembered the many times I have shown up distraught and city-frazzled on her doorstep, and she has fed me the last of her new potatoes, comforted me, and enriched my life beyond money’s measure. It was absurd to even hesitate! So I wrote her the cheque, and she hired the man (who no doubt needed the work), and now the structure is almost finished – a sweet new guest cabin, which she dubs “Carmen House”! I am thrilled. And can’t imagine how that money could have been better employed.

I also lent some money to my friend Erik Paulsson, to help him launch his new documentary/educational dvd, The Edge of the World. Erik is a dedicated artist and a big-time mensch, and I am so proud to have been able to help. And very excited that he will be bringing his doc on tour to Cortes Island soon.

And when I consider these loans,  I ask myself -  would I be happier knowing that money was sitting rotting in my bank account, accumulating a few pennies interest for me and a few more for the shareholders of the globe-raping multinational corporations who keep the banks afloat – or knowing it was out there doing such good work in the world, for the people I love. An easy choice, and energy well directed.

Of course I am not suggesting lending money to scammers or flakes; use your brain. And above all don’t ever lend money that you cannot “afford” to lose. My well-considered loans will probably come back in monetary energy; the odds are good – but even if they don’t, I know I will still eat, and on my deathbed I will feel well satisfied with the work my money has done in the world.

The second thing to do with money is spend it. That’s a whole nother pile of blogs/book chapters, how to spend money…but the point is, it exists to be spent. My mother told me that – she said “the money we have is for us to use – not to be left to you when we die” – and though it might have sounded harsh at the time, I am grateful for her instruction. You can’t take it with you, so spend it, carefully and well. And the more you can spend it within your own community the better – that will speed up the karmic cycle considerably.

Lend it and spend it, these are satisfying modes of exchange – but the most efficient thing to do with money is to give it away.

Lama Marut says that when you are down to your last 20 dollars the smartest thing you can do is give away ten dollars immediately. My friend Janet told me there’s a busker who’s often outside the local grocery store, who she always gives money to. He told her that he’s found that if he hangs on to his money then his car breaks down! So he always tries to give away a little every day. Now, that might be verging on superstition, but I do find that giving away money engenders monetary karma so fast it makes my head spin.

I like PayPal. It allows me to move energy quickly and intuitively. When someone I respect has the courage and humility to ask me for money for a specific need, I give – usually just a little bit, $5, $20 – as truly, I don’t have much. But it feels like an immediate and tangible act of support. Putting it where my mouth is, so to speak. It is always received in kind. And I know that if and when the day comes for me to be doing the asking, I will do so without shame.

I don’t even necessarily need to understand or agree with the specific need. I just need to respect the asker, and I know that my demonstrated support will be come back with interest.

I  occasionally give money to causes and charities and global emergencies, as I feel called – which is not consistent or constant or predictable. I go by my gut. I no longer give money to political parties, as I believe they are the death of democracy – but occasionally i will give to individuals running for office, if I believe in their integrity.

I extend the same “rule of gut” to people on the street who reach out for spare change. I don’t feel able to judge them, or to evaluate their motives or their needs. They may spend the money to feed themselves, or to feed their kids, or to buy cigarettes or crack – I don’t know, and I don’t want to try to guess. They may be capable of “earning” money, or not – who am I to say? All I know is, they are individuals, and they asked. And in the moment of the ask we either connect or we don’t. If we don’t, then the give is not authentic. If we do, then the spare change comes from my heart, and I am satisfied with the exchange.

Lend it, spend it, give it away. But keep it moving, because it is always an exchange, energy for energy, as the wheel goes ’round.

7 Comments on “Lend it, spend it, give it away

  1. I enjoyed reading your money flow ponderings Carmen.
    It brought to mind a song Grandmother Rita Blumenstein, from Alaska (13 Indigenous Grandmother’s Council)
    loves to sing…..

    Love Is Like a Magic Penny

    Love is something if you give it away,
    Give it away, give it away.
    Love is something if you give it away;
    You end up having more.
    It’s just like a magic penny;
    Hold it tight, and you won’t have any;
    Lend and spend it, and you’ll have so many
    They’ll roll all over the floor.

    Sending you lots of love up in your Cortes hideway.
    Send me some wildness through the airwaves I’m having an attack of suburbitis.
    love & light & sound Vivienne

  2. Wise words, thank you! See also Lewis Hyde’s book The Gift (which inspired the Bruce Cockburn tune of the same name)… though I’m betting you already have. 🙂

  3. Maybe it’s not so much about money, but about giving what you have. Money-poor nations have so much community, and our money-rich nations can seem impoverished. Empty streets, indifferent faces. Share what you have: money, apples, talent, words, thoughts. With the money I earn, I like to eat at local restaurants, support local arts, and shop at local grocery stores. It just feels better.

    Jes random thoughts. Stay warm, Carmen!

  4. hi carmen,

    you ask for feedback and yet what can i say to this? the truth of your words are undeniable. perhaps most worthy of comment is the respect i have for your confidence in selflessness. this is a long running theme in my relationship with you. you posit the infinite, i respond with buts, even though i love and know what you are saying. the truth is you walk your talk, and you walk it well. you keep it simple and yet we share a love for the epic.

    it is of course truly the case that to give is to receive. money is best viewed as flow rather than as object. in fact, i think the western problem is that we objectified money. we quite literally made it into something it is not, for it is never was an object, nor even a symbol of an object. it is a symbol of transaction, of currency, and flow. and in that sense, money is totally friggin awesome.

    peace out

  5. You use slightly different language, but what you say about money here is very much in accordance with what I am learning from the Finance and Macroeconomics classes I am taking right now in the MBA program at UBC. They use terms like “liquidity in capital markets” and “velocity of money” – the underlying principle is that “money” is static, it is a thing, but “income” is a flow, a dynamic movement of money (or any other medium of exchange, but money is perhaps the most common these days), and it is the flow that matters more. Like you say, stagnant money festers, but lending money multiplies wealth enormously. Nice to see it in action in the circle of friends and relations.

  6. Great posting. I didn’t know you were an islander until Andrea Curtis linked to your blog on FB. You probably don’t remember me, we met a few times, I used to do Swap-O-Rama-Rama in Vancouver. I’ve been two years living on Lasqueti now. We actually come pretty close here to practising the monetary system you describe.

  7. Further to the two examples above:

    Robin Wheeler passed away two weeks ago, of pancreatic cancer. I attended her burial ceremony and life celebration yesterday in Roberts Creek. But a couple of days before her health took a final downturn i received a card in the mail from her, with a cheque for $1500 to repay my “loan”. I immediately bought a plane ticket and flew to Vancouver, and was able to see her one last time before she died (details of all of that, in my Feb/March 2012 posts).

    Erik’s film project was a huge success, and now he is paying me, to produce Crazy 8’s screening and afterparty on March 30.

    And it goes on…karmic economics works. The best way to make money is to give it away.

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