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From Morgan Housel’s - The Psychology of Money

A young lawyer aiming to be a partner at a prestigious law firm might need to maintain an appearance that I, a writer who can work in sweatpants, have no need for. But when his purchases set my own expectations, I’m wandering down a path of potential disappointment because I’m spending the money without the career boost he’s getting.

This is one of the clearest examples I’ve found yet that illustrate not only the futility but immense harm that one can get themselves into by blindly imitating the status quo. Social Media and the ever increasingly personalized advertising systems do their best to make this imitation game even more lucrative.

Morgan Housel uses the example to make aware his readers that simply spending the money like someone else does without clearly understanding the reasons of how it will help them grow might mean you are throwing away that money and in effect a chunk of your life that you have lost in gaining it.

This is a great example to scale up to anything in life. One sees this all the time all around us. Some examples

  • Getting a car without knowing if it benefits you

  • Getting a higher education just coz its a norm

  • Buying an iPhone (or the next expensive gadget) without it adding anything to your growth

  • Working your tails off to afford an expensive home just cause everyone is expected to own their own property

Its easy to get jealous and want the next material thing (be it a degree or a designer suit) and consider it to be needed for your identity. To face that its a vanity project is much harder for the brain.

We are all different people with different goals in life, these comparisons inevitably lead us astray and make us invested into things that are not aligned to the paths we want to walk. Its hard to have a constant reminder to have your goals and your processes as your identities and not the materials which are mere tools that can aid you in your walk. Each time you swipe your card or create a transaction you take a few steps backwards in your path. Meaningfully used money can create a slingshot effect of propelling you much faster ahead, but if it amounts to a big Zero or worse it takes you backward in the path to your goal, what good is it?

Yesterday I watched episode 3/5 of Agnes’s From Here to There where she documents the places, people, artists and artworks she loves. She is one of the most amazing film-makers that we’ve ever had. A powerhouse of love manifesting on screen.

There is a scene in the film where Agnes interviews art collector Elsbeth Bisig who claims to be really sad to sell an artwork by Mario Merz, a piece that she had with her for over 18 years

. Agnes responds by humbly asking “I imagine it sold for a high price. Over a million Euros?”, ”A bit over it, yes” Elsbeth replies. “Was meeting Mario important for you?” says Agnes, “Unforgettable” she replies.

Though troubled by it Agnes leaves the contradiction of it unresolved. Not everything is meant to reach to a state of resolution. Sometimes we tend to think that if something is not going according to our will we should change it in some way. It manifests in actions like directly encountering the problem, arguing, writing useless reviews or comments over the so called problem. But the problem stays and if not from the same source it emanates from elsewhere. Maybe we need to choose wisely where we spend our energies. Instead of directing our precious time towards vacuous efforts on meaningless pursuits its best to direct them towards our objects of love and find a deeper joy in uncovering it.

Updated: Sep 19, 2021

The oxford dictionary defines the word ‘Profess’ as

to ‘claim that one has (a quality or feeling), especially when this is not the case.’

And from the word Profess comes Professional and Professor

Then what does it mean to be a Professional or a professor. I’ve always found titles to be empty and restrictive. Titles like musician, animator, designer, artist, writer, etc. claim to create a certain identity of the person through a popular notion of others doing the same thing. In my design college there was a popular, invisible notion that ’animators’ have to be ‘animated’ all the time, quirky, funny, loud, like out of a Disney movie. When I see folks in the fine arts at times I see how heavily the notion of being different in attire, in looks, in thoughts, bears upon them.

I was recently asked if I was a comic artist by an acquaintance. Yes I made a couple of tiny comics, but I am not a comic artist I conveyed. As a human being I feel we do certain things that interest us or we are inclined to at certain points in life, I illustrate, animate, make films, write, alongside the myriad activities in life. I cook, read, blog, bike, play the guitar, clean my room, etc. too. But to say that the thing I do should define my identity takes away the power of my identity and its intrinsic need to manifest through the actions it does. The titles and ensuing expectations reduce the complex individual identities to an easily digestible, understandable, marketable product on the racks of its consumers.


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