If your parents are still alive, note this: they will die. And when they die, they will probably leave you some money. There is nothing to gain by denying this. If this is true for you, acknowledge it and be free. You will never want, and your best course of action is generosity and adventure.
I speak from a position of average middle-class North American privilege, and of course I certainly don’t speak for everyone – each of our situations is unique. But most of the people I know fall roughly into my extended socio-economic bubble, and most have or had parents, who have or had property, savings, or investments. And unless their family relationships were especially convoluted or estranged, it is a given that when they pass on, their assets will be distributed amongst their blood relatives.
Once again I say, that I can only write from my own experience, and I am writing for a readership who I know well. I am painfully aware that ours is a slim sliver of the grand global picture, but this is the social/economic reality I know best, and I feel no need to apologize for the life I was born into. I try to recognize every privilege I have, accept it with gratitude, and remember that every blessing we are given, no matter how small, comes with an equal spoonful of responsibility.
So, this is our reality: your parents will die, and they will probably leave you some money. So what? Why do I think it is important to fully consider that painful and complicated fact?
This is why. Because it will help you live a life unconstrained by neurosis around money, where all your possibilities can be explored. And where you can live a life of highest service, and pleasure.
Here is an example of what the notion of “money in the bank” – whether real or imaginary – can do for you.
Ten years ago, I was hit by a car while riding my bike – a van driven by a young new driver, out practicing her skills on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I was injured – thank you god, not grievously. I had a good lawyer (good at his job and in his heart), and after a while there was an insurance settlement, and I got a cheque from ICBC for $20,000.
It wasn’t a huge sum of money, and I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to spend it on – so I I put the money in the bank, in a useless low-interest savings account, and left it there. (granted: real-world economics are not my fortÃ©). I’ve never needed it since, and so it is still there in that bank account, doing nothing. But psychologically, that money has had an effect on my life. There have been times in the past decade when I have considered some crazy adventure, considered terminating an unsatisfying contract job, considered taking a much-needed rest, considered launching some visionary venture. And just as I have been attacked by the “oh no i can’t do that, how can i support myself, what if…”, the money anxiety, the little demon of scarcity and fear – suddenly, I would remember that $20,000 in the bank, which I had actually managed time and again to entirely forget about.
And so I did hightail it to Arizona to live in an experimental community, transition out of my graphic design business, start a bicycle magazine, devote years of my life to fighting a highway project, wander around Mexico, take a leisurely summer to process the death of my father, go to manage a fantasy dharma ranch on Cortes Island. I said never mind, damn the cost, if I ever really “need” money, money will be there for me.
And magically, amazingly, through serendipity and faith and karma – it turned out that I never “needed” the money. And so it is still there, gathering dust in that low-interest bank account, just as if it had never existed. And maybe it never did. A purely virtual safety net that has given me space to jump, in trust, and be free. My life has been and continues to be an adventure in service, faith and fun, and I can’t imagine what it would have been had I been paralyzed by fear of poverty and passed up even one of those precious opportunities.
But the interesting thing is, again – because I just went ahead with the schemes, I have never “needed” the money – enough money has always flowed back to me to balance out my needs. Just knowing it was there was enough to set the karmic economic gears in motion.
And then when my father died, two years back, another small (by modern standards) chunk of money came my way. I asked my brother to take care of it for me, and he did. I don’t even know how much it is or where it is now, but I know if I ever need it, it is there. And so I can go forward, to offer myself to the world.
And that is why I say, if it is true for you, acknowledge it: your parents will die, and they will leave you some money. Some day it will come to you – and if you need it before they die, very possibly that too can be arranged. In either case you will use it for good purposes, in a way that would make them proud.
Don’t worry about the money. Don’t ever let money stop you from fulfilling your destiny. Take a risk, and be free.