The empty purse



This week I posted on my FB page that my purse was empty and this was a blessing because it forced me to look at how I am in the world without money. To be honest it wasn’t pretty. I was visited by anxiety, doubt, frustration and a lot of fear.

When I reflect on my life, I’ve always had enough to do what I wanted and if I didn’t I would just work until I made what I needed. For the first time in my life my purse was empty and I had no clue where the next coin was going to come from.

I was very scared, how would I feed my children or travel to appointments? My stomach grew hard with wind and and worry and my mind was filled with the worse case scenerios’.  It wasn’t easy to meditate but I wanted to overcome this feeling of desperation. I locked myself into my room and focused on all the wonderful things I have in my life, my children, my friends, my creativity, a roof over my head, the books I read, the joy of living on the continent.

It was tough because I think I defined myself with cash. My ability to sustain myself and give to others, to buy food and clothes etc etc. This week I couldn’t buy anything and seriously it made me depressed. Retail therapy we are told, helps us to feel better about ourselves but it is such a capitalistic exercise. So does this make me a capitalist?

I dislike the thought because I despise capitalism and its exploitation of people and natural resources.

It seems I am not immune to the pull of consumerism, the needless acquisition of things in order to make me feel happy.

To what purpose do I serve if I don’t have money? Its a scary thought but one that is very real for many people living in the global south who have to live on less than 1 dollar a day. How do we gain our sense of self esteem if we are outside of a system that teaches us we have no value if we don’t have money, that we are poor.

But what I’ve come to realise is the system is set up that way. To make working class people feel they are useless because we can’t buy the things that make us ‘developed’. The system is set up to frustrate. Yet we are the ones who maintain it.

Huey P Newton says that we need to become more concious of who we are and why we are in these circumstances. Then we must change these circumstances and construct a new world.

So this week I gave of myself, my mind, my thoughts, my time. I connected with people in conversation, I shared what little food I had with others, my friends shared what they had with me and together we made it through.

I think I became more human this week. I’m not saying I want to live with an empty purse, but what I am saying is that I am ready for a simpler life. I don’t want to be trapped in the urban centres where finances are necessary to move. If the statistics are right that by 2050 nearly 80% of Africa’s population will live cities, I wonder what quality of life we will have. More than ever I want to place myself in nature, the village is where I want to be because this is where I will find my humanity.

Like the Sankofa bird of the Adinkra, my head is facing forward but my feet are facing back, to the past because ultimately simplicity and living within ones means is the only sustainable future we have.