A year ago, like almost exactly a year ago, when I was earning good money working for AWS, I called my uncle, and I told him that I did not know what to spend my money on. He said something like, \”save some money, but make sure to buy the things that you want. You don\’t have to save every penny. Live a little.\” He assumed that I was saving my money—which I was most certainly not. I was recklessly over-\”living\”.
I\’m not entirely sure how to diagnose the root of my problem at the time. I knew I was spending too much and living beyond my means. But I was in a Catch-22: If I had been wiser, I would not have spent so much; however, if I had been wiser, I probably would not have accepted that job in the first place. My motivation for working was inseparable from my spending habits. When I saw that my decadent spending habits (eating out, drinking out, and buying expensive clothes on a whim) weren\’t making me happy, my reason and motivation dried up. This was a visceral transformation beyond my rational, conscious control.
During the first few months of unemployment after I was \”quit-fired\”, I became a will-less wet noodle. I told myself that I was going to become a writer and give up my love of worldly possessions; I was going to live a life of the mind. And that\’s kind of where I am right now, but I feel like I am growing beyond being just a hermit or just a careless spender.
But I remember those times of careless spending fondly, even though they all blur together. It would go something like this—
It was as if I would see an item—for example a $200 pair of techwear pants—I would lust. I would be overcome by desire. I wanted the thing. And when I would spend the money, I would feel release. To be frank here, making a purchase was a lot like jerking off or hooking up with someone at a bar: you feel disgusting afterwards, but what else is there to do if you are incapable of seeing better alternatives?
Picture me, an idiot, doing this:
A store display catches my eye, or picture on Instagram makes be pause and hit that tiny little heart button just below the picture. We flirt for a while: I circle around the mannequin, or maybe I start looking up product reviews on reddit.
Then comes the buildup. —I try her on. Then my beloved goes into the basket. We\’re not quite together, but we\’re holding hands. I caress her, feeling the texture of her
skin fabric;—during those first moments when we meet her touch is sublime. Many of my clearest and most vivid dreams happen during this short period; I can see all of the lovely times that we\’re going to have together—showers of compliments, instances of radiance. I will be the sun, but she will be the light.
It is during these times that I use my credit card rather than my debit card: It puts to rest my fear of even a momentary dysfunction brought on by a lack of
I insert my credit card. …Or—less euphemistically—Google Chrome autofills what it can, and I\’m left digging through my wallet to read off my card\’s CVV—the one I haven\’t memorized (yet).
Then, I am free—perfected, desireless, yet
gestating expecting the arrival of something good in 2-14 business days.
But it is done. The hookup is over. The giddiness fades. And if I am capable of financial accounting or a modest self-reflection, then I am disgusted with myself, yet not so disgusted that I am going to make a return, because to make a return would be to admit that I was wrong, and I was not wrong; I\’m an adult and I gave my consent, so if I gave my consent, then how can I have any regrets?
It is not that there\’s anything wrong with my brand of financial wontoness. Rather, during that phase in my life I hoped for something more, something steady. And it took a lot of time, pain, and debt to realize that.
Digression: Okay, all that being said, there are some articles of clothing that I truly love despite their apparent extravagance. I love my (Iron Heart type-3 overdyed 14oz denim) jean jacket. I spent a butt-load on it, and I would never take three times that money in return. I\’m going to wear that thing until it fucking DIES. Sometimes something good can come out of the mess of mindless erotic-shopping, but it is necessary to be at least passively looking for things with future value—i.e. dollar per wear.
Today, I am no longer a totally-spent, will-less, wet-noodle. I am only totally-spent. What has changed is that rather than merely lusting, my desire and attention is focused. And that\’s where a motorcycle comes in. I want a motorcycle. And I want to pay for it in cash. I don\’t want to go around spending my money on just whatever catches my fancy just like I don\’t want to go around hooking up with whomestever. I\’m on the lookout for something of more substantial, less-fleeting, and longer-term value.
Money is merely the congealed shadow of value. And a motorcycle is merely the congealed form some other higher thing—a union of engineering, beauty, and the human desire to push beyond our physical capacities, etc., idfk.
But what I do know is that I can vividly see (read: dream of) something worth saving
myself my money for. And that\’s kind of nice. Because for a second there I was worried that I was going to be totally content with a humble collection of dense paperbacks and a cardboard box for a home.
One desire\’s consummation is the birth of yet another desire. Desire (itself) is never satiated. —And that\’s okay; there\’s an art to it.