I have determined that I have a mind-set of poverty. Not “Woe is me!” poverty. Monkish poverty. The poverty of a priest or supplicant. A philosophy of poverty, the opposite of a philosophy of wealth.
This philosophy has been mine a long time. I recall that my mother warned my wife (before we were married) that I had gotten by on very little for quite some time. It seems I have never required much.
There have been times I have studied philosophies of wealth and wealth builders. Not people of avarice, but people who respect wealth and the things wealth can bring. My motivation was generally wanting to provide well for my family.
Such study never came to much. I simply do not value property and acquisition the way such people do. I see the things I possess largely as tools for living, to be used and appreciated but not valuable as things in themselves. When a tool no longer serves the purpose for which it is intended, it is time to be rid of the thing. Dull and broken tools are simply an incumbrance, and life is better unencumbered.
For the sake of my family I have often put aside my monkish ways, and sought material things to meet their needs. Many of those needs require more than a minimum of possessions, and so we have acquired more than I feel the need to have. I often feel encumbered.
I do not mind. My family has provided me with a focus and an anchor. An anchor in the sense of that useful nautical element that prevents drifting at sea. Focus as opposed to unfocused rambling. I am inclined toward drifting through the world, observing and contemplating but not contributing to any great degree. A vagabond existential priest, a monk of the moment. The love of my family gives my life form and definition.
Family can also be an expression of faith. My drift brought me into the Christian faith, and working out that faith brought me to family and church. Within the limits of my nature I have tried to be faithful to family and church, and am content with how it all has worked out.
I am not always sure how my family feels. Perhaps they have longed for designer jeans, horse riding lessons and private schools. I don’t recall any mention of such things. I am not privy to their more secret longings. I have done my best, and they seem content.
Such thoughts are mine right now because I am working through my plans for my next career. Can my longing to drift a bit be somehow satisfied at this point in my life? My family is still with me, and has needs. Still, they are not so dependant upon me as once they were.
The tools of our modern era increase the temptation to pull up the anchor and drift. Electronic readers allow one to carry whole libraries in one hand. Computers and cell phones keep anyone as connected as they might want to be, and still free to see what is beyond the horizon. See, and report on it.
Can I get a tweet on that?
With such tools I could drift with few possessions, yet have great wealth of knowledge and information.
Now that’s what I call poverty!