Pauper in a landscape

Some years ago, I got into an argument with a chap about money and happiness. I had said that one of the things I most need, and that most makes me happy, is walking in my local area and having a big vista to admire. He told me that I was making a virtue of necessity, that I walked because I was too poor to have any other hobbies and that if I had any money, my priorities would change and I would start valuing all the things he considered it worth valuing. All the things you can spend a lot of money on.

It is true that at that time, I was sorely financially restricted. I also had little scope for getting places, minimal access to public transport, I was a tad socially isolated and I was suffering from anxiety to a degree that did not incline me to spend a lot of time around people anyway.

Here we are, some years on. I have access to buses, trains and taxis, cinema, live music, art, theatre, people. As I’m no longer spending everything I have and more on solicitors, I have a lot more scope to spend money on things for me. I’m less anxious than I was, I no longer get so stressed dealing with people. It would be fair to say that I go out more often, buy more books, and have a lot more options.

All of this was very much on my mind this week. I was sat on a rock, in a wood, drinking tea out of a thermos and eating biscuits, and talking with Tom about all manner of things. We’ve been busy a lot lately, mostly me with work, but we hadn’t taken time out to do anything just the two of us in a while. Having allocated some time, what we chose to do with it was walk part of the Cotswold Way, carrying a thermos of tea and some biscuits. Very much as we used to when we didn’t have as many options. We didn’t get much of a view because the Severn flood plain was full of mist, but we did see some pigs, and a lot of flowers, and the light was amazing.

Given the choice, I’ll be in the woods and over the hills, or down through the valleys following the streams. I’ll be where the wild birds are, away from the traffic. I’ll be sat on a rock somewhere, looking at the sky and drinking tea. Not as an act of making the best of it. Not because if I could afford to, I’d do something else. This is what I choose. Maybe just with Tom, maybe with other people who share the same inclinations.

In some ways, money and success are a greater test of your values than poverty, for most spiritually minded people. Most religions are all about making a virtue of necessity, from a certain perspective. Greener living is all about consuming less. However, money creates temptations to own, to hop in a plane, to buy a car, to get involved with what everyone else seems to find happy-making.

There is so little I want for myself. Time in the hills, with the sky and the views, a flask of tea, and good company. I can get by without a lot of things, but not this. No amount of money is going to persuade me otherwise.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Pauper in a landscape

  • angharadlois

    That last paragraph describes my kind of heaven, too 🙂 It sounds like you had a lovely walk. I have a half-written blog post squirreled away somewhere about the joys of walking – dreamed up while I was walking past the usual horrendous traffic jam of single-person cars that stretched all the way from beyond my work to beyond the train station. People here think I am strange for walking as much as I do instead of driving everywhere, yet I can sneak off down the footpath by the river and see kingfishers and cormorants, and watch the buds forming on the trees, and pick cherry plums in early autumn. Cars can be useful, but in many cases they are just a mobile prison.

  • alainafae

    Here in the United States, wealth in the form of money is the ultimate virtue. You sacrifice time with family, time with friends, time alone, time in nature, time for your health, and just about everything else to be at the behest of someone who will give you lots of money for all these sacrifices while you tell yourself “I’ll do all those things when I’m not working, especially since I’ll have all that money to do it all in style”. Despite being a country that is predominantly self-proclaimed Christians, whose holy book states “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24 NIV), a vast majority seems to still subscribe to the ‘almighty dollar’.

  • Alison Clayton-Smith (@alisoncs)

    Lovely post and one for me to ponder on a little more.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    It has been shown in some studies that the secret of happiness is more about how many good experiences you allow yourself to have, then the number of things that you acquire. So people are trained to put off actually living their life until so future date.

    As said here i the States something that does to have a price tag is thought to be of no value. So to keep the economy going we have been taught that we never have enough, and must forever continue to buy our stairway to heaven.

    I have been so poor as to not eat regularly. I lived in a VW bus for several years. Now I have more money and own outright where I live, which is a little shop to pay its own expenses. I still live simply. My extra spending is mostly on books, and DVDs to watch at home. I just be the capitalist worst nightmare.

    Oh my other big spending is about $160 a month on bird seed. But here in the desert that often gives me a carpet of birds to watch, a lot of fat rodents, and I would imagine some pretty happy predators as well, Coyotes, Bobcats, and Mountain Lions. I get to laugh a lot watching the wild critters, and they are pretty happy as well.

  • crychydd

    I’ve always valued walking as a pursuit in itself as well as a way of getting to wild places away from roads where – as you describe here – real quality time is spent.

    • Christopher Blackwell

      You cannot get to know any placed that you have not walked through and spent considerable time in. Passing through even by bicycle, car, or public transport will show you next to nothing about the place.

      This is why back in 1968, when I did my bike tour, that once I got to a town, or village, that i parked bicycle, often at my bed and breakfast, and set out on foot.

  • curlydogs11

    I love this post…the more you write, always so honestly, gives me the opportunity to know you better, even if only in Cyber-space. I too was once very poor (my food was what the grocery store threw away – very good food indeed) and quite isolated, in my mind and my physical body. I (and hubby) are still financially poor, but I thrill to the challenge of eating well on a low budget, not using the car except when it is absolutely needed, continuing to open my eyes to see what nature has provided, both spiritually, emotionally and in the physical. We have a deep, abiding love for each other and my life is now the best ever. In my eyes, we are rich beyond belief! Thank you for your posts – I’ve never read such honest and thought-provoking words…

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