Day 73: A Matrix Musing

It’s been awhile since the world was abuzz with The Matrix.  I had popped in Matrix Reloaded (part 2) because I hadn’t seen it in quite some time (maybe a few years).  I liked this version because my favorite Italian actress, Monica Bellucci, also guest stars. 

Towards the end of the film, Trinity says something that made me stop and think…funny, because that’s exactly why our economy is the way that it is today.  She mentioned something about how the mistakes of the past…we were borrowing from tomorrow for today.

All of those reports on how banks are trying to establish new fees, I can’t help but think that now is not the time to become greedier.  You fire 30,000 people from the company and then raise the bank fees for your customers?  What is wrong with that picture?

But then you have to ask why banks have been put in this position.  Go back to Trinity’s quote.  People borrowed from tomorrow to pay for today.  Tomorrow finally came and there was a big fat IOU…and nothing to show for in terms of repayment. 

People complained about signing loans for their houses and then when the interest rate jumped, they could no longer afford their homes.  Why were you buying a bigger house outside of what you could afford?  It is also the banks’ fault for allowing these kinds of loans.  It’s just a complete circle of screwing each other over.  No one wins in GREED…Greed to have something you can’t afford; Greed to try to make a profit off of giving someone something they can’t afford, because you can make money off of that bigger interest.

If you look at the stories from the Great Depression, what the people learned back then was not to live outside of your means.  People didn’t have jobs, there were people living in makeshift shacks along country roads…and even in Central Park.  They did whatever work they could find…and if worse came to worse, they tried to get assistance.  There were bread lines…but people with pride tried to keep themselves and their families away from being in that line.

People lost a lot of money in the stock market crash, but many survived who didn’t throw themselves out of a window.  There was always a new day…they lived for today…not tomorrow. 

They would have never borrowed money to pay for a house that was beyond their means.  It was unheard of.

They planted gardens.  They bartered with others.  They tried to keep their credit to the absolute minimum and necessity.  Credit wasn’t used to buy whatever they wanted.  They had credit to buy what they needed…like FOOD. 

People from the Depression Era also tried to teach future generations that you need to live within your means and not live in excess.  They lived very simply with little to no clutter in their homes.  They only kept the things they needed and the things that they worked hard for. 

They learned how to make it with little to nothing.  They were thinking about today, not about tomorrow.

In the Muslim Arab tradition, they live the same way.  They look at life in the present moment, not what’s going to happen tomorrow or how much money they will have tomorrow.  They wake up each and every morning thinking that whatever they need, God will provide it for them. 

But rest assured, they work very, very hard every single day in order to get those gifts from God.  Whether it’s a good harvest or a good job, they work very hard to do the things necessary to make everyone (including God) happy with them and their work.  If everyone is happy, then they are blessed. 

Talk about less stress.

I learned when I was in my early 20s that it’s not wise to borrow from tomorrow, because when tomorrow comes, how are you going to pay for it?  What if you can’t pay for it when that time comes?  Then you have to ask yourself what in the world you just had to have yesterday that you had to pay for it today…and you still don’t have the money to pay for it.  Most times, you can’t even remember what you bought when you got that credit card bill at the end of the month.

I live by the rule that if you don’t have the cash for it, then it’s not meant to be.  LUSTING after things that you’ll never be able to afford is a sin in itself for a reason…because you will end up hurting yourself (and possibly others) by trying to LUST after something you want and don’t need, especially if you can’t afford it with what you have right now.

That works in all manners in life, not just in money.  LUST and GREED were considered deadly sins for a reason.  The two alone or even combined can do serious damage.  To sin now, you’ll have to pay for it later.  All religions talk about that.  If you think you’ll be forgiven for those sins…look at our world today and tell me how those sins forgiven haven’t upset or hurt others.

Bank bailouts?  Look at what happened to the world.  US financial bailout?  Look at what happened to the world. 

There are cities that talk about running out of money, like Detroit.  They warn that they will be out of money by April.  That means 10% paycut (or even layoffs) for police officers and many others that serve the city.

We are all paying that IOU TODAY with joblessness, paycuts, foreclosures, collections, etc.  Tomorrow finally came and what have we done to ourselves?  What has LUST and GREED cost us, but pain. 

How can we change all of this?  If there’s anything I’ve learned over these past few years, we have the ability to change our life by changing our mindset.  When we change our mindset, our world becomes new (and even better).  When you think positive, you view the world differently.  You see opportunity in the challenges you face, not detriment.

When you think about doing the things that will make your life better, you have to think positively and act with goodness in mind.  Since this financial downfall has happened, you see new types of businesses cropping up…businesses designed to help not just the consumer, but the world.  People with success in mind have been developing new business models that have helped shift their businesses ahead of the rest…and made their customers very happy.  They not only cut their overhead costs by staying exclusive to a certain group of clients, but they also give back to their customers for their loyalty.  They bank on a customer’s happiness to bring them back.  Bauble Bar is a great example of that. 

They are a jewelry company that does not sell in stores or have an actual store.  Everything is completely web based.  They reward their customers with credits towards free jewelry each time they shop…and each time they refer a friend…and each and every time that friend buys…they both get a credit.

Not only is their product qualitative and beautiful, but they keep all of their customers very happy.  A happy customer equals a loyal customer who will do all of the marketing for them (i.e. their marketing budget…why market the product in ads when your customers spread the news for you).

Thanks to their Buried Bauble Fridays, I’ve been able to amass a gorgeous jewelry collection for $10 a piece…and so have my friends.  I always get compliments on the free jewelry I pick up from their Vault…and when you say FREE…that prompts more people to want to buy from them.

That is the new direction businesses have to move into in order to succeed in this day and age.  They have to make the customer happy…and give back in a way that the customer sees it.  Customers need to feel happy with their purchase, even if they know that their purchase goes to help the women in Africa who designed and made the piece they are ordering.

The thing here is that people are not working with GREED in their mind when they set up their businesses.  They are thinking about how their business can change the world…and how they can bring happiness into the world.

It’s about bringing positive energy into their world and into their business.  It’s positive thinking.

When I first started living as a positive thinker a few years back, the only thing on my mind at the time was what I wanted when I first got my current job.  I thought about how much money I wanted to make, the benefits I wanted, and the hours I wanted to work.  Basically, I just wanted to make a lot of money with full benefits, and work less hours.  I got all of that by not only wishing for that, but by putting my thoughts into action. 

When I walked into the interview, I knew exactly what I wanted.  If they had what I wanted, then I wanted to work for them. 

The job I ended up getting in the end…that was the job that was perfect for me.  It met all of my criteria and more…and I’ve been very happy there ever since.

When I think positively about money, I think…I want more than enough.  I don’t want anymore than that.  I don’t want to be rich beyond measure.  I just want to have a little more than enough…and that’s exactly what I got.  To want more than that…that would be GREED in order to fulfill my LUSTS.  That is a slippery slope that should not be tread upon.

I’ve been very lucky these past few years.  Right now, all I want to focus on is the present and making sure I have what I need.  It’s funny how I had my cards read the other day and I saw that I would be on a financial diet for a little while.  What a diet it’s been.  What’s funny is that there are two ways to look at the card.  You can see it as it being harsh, or you can look at it in a positive light…as in, God is still providing for me…he’s not denying me.  How you look at that part in life is how your future will unravel.

For me, being on this extreme financial diet reminds me of how much fun I used to have scouring through vintage shops and thrift stores.  I used to go in and budget myself at $100 and I had to find an entire outfit for $100…sometimes $50.  I’ve found amazing pairs of vintage jeans, bags and coats that way.  I’ve even been able to find items that I had been wanting (like books and home stuff) just show up on the shelves while I was in a thrift store for just 10 cents or a dollar.  Those are the finds that I cherish just as much as I do with my first purchase from Neiman Marcus or Tiffany & Co.  Why?  Because there are great finds where you find an amazing deal on something you had been looking for that you got for just pocket change…and then there’s that moment when you realize you can afford your first Burberry bag…or even your first Fendi bag.

I even found out that Aldi just opened up in my neighborhood.  I remember shopping there when I was dirt poor and coming out with so many great finds.  Target and Wal-Mart also supplemented my grocery finds. 

I also found out that there was a Salvation Army shop just two blocks from my office.  Dangerous, indeed…but good for my pocketbook. 

I don’t have to live so frugally, but I choose to because it takes a lot of work (and money) to make my next dream come true.  As I told my friend, God told me I needed to work hard these next six months, because it will pay off in the end.  What that means…well, I’ll find out in six months…just like I found out while I was in Morocco why God kept saying that what happens in Morocco will change my life completely.  It will change my entire perception on life and develop a new ending to “Losing 100 Pounds of Unhappiness.”  Ends up, he was right.  It changed everything in ways that I never imagined it would…and I am happier for it.

Now, all my mind can think about is making sure I have more than enough of the necessities (like food, health related items, etc.), and getting rid of the things I don’t need.  What I bring into the home now are the things that will be with me today, tomorrow and a year from now…and I’m not borrowing from tomorrow to pay for it today.  I’m paying for today with today’s money so that I can also have it for tomorrow (if it comes).  If I don’t have the money today, I’m definitely not borrowing to pay for it.  Why?  Because that IOU eventually becomes due…and I find that IOU always has to be paid when you don’t have the money.  It’s better to start living with what you have today, because tomorrow’s paycheck is never guaranteed.

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