If I had, let’s call it, “lots and lots of money” (i.e. more than I would spend on my own present endeavors), I would give it to people who give me energy. If you enhance the quality of my life, I pay you.
The catch is, I wouldn’t need this to happen in some formal setting. This wouldn’t have to occur in the context of me buying something from someone else. If you and I have some sort of interaction or exchange, and I’m better off for it, I would like to pay you.
How does that sound?
Paying Producers Extra
Allow me to explain further. I’ll start with more conventional examples, and work my way down to the more socially-unconventional.
Let’s say that I read a great book that bestows me with a bounty of useful ideas, insights, and inspiration. I wouldn’t want to give the author just whatever royalties he gets on that one copy of the book, largely because I know that doesn’t amount to much money. It certainly doesn’t amount to the amount of money I’d like to give him.
If it’s a $20 print book that’s traditionally published, he might make roughly $10 from it (I don’t know for sure). If it’s a digital self-published book, then he could potentially get all $20, depending on how he distributes it (as a side-note, if you go through Amazon like I did with What is a Real Life?, you would make $7 for every $20 e-book sold).
Now, if this book changes my life, why in God’s name would I only want to give the author $10? I want to send that guy at least $50. And that’s just from my current perspective. When I reach the point of considering $50 to be chump change, I imagine I’d want to send even more.
What matters to me here is that if I send money to the author directly, he gets every cent that I want him to have. This way we both win.
I have done this before. Earlier this year I read 8 books from the Conversations with God series by Neale Donald Walsch. I borrowed them all from a library, so no one made any money on my doing this.
I really enjoyed the books, and I wanted to compensate Neale for what he has created. I went to his website with the hope of finding some sort of donation button (like I have on my site) that would allow me to send money to him directly. I found many donation buttons, though from what I could tell the money all went to charities that he was involved with, rather than himself. One of the charities bought Neale’s books for people who are in jail. I liked the idea, so I donated money to it.
I would have liked to give money to Neale himself, too. My impression is that he is rather wealthy, and he probably would have preferred that I give the money to one of his charities. So I guess this worked out alright, though I certainly would like to compensate him further.
I’d do the same thing with farmers. If I buy a head of broccoli from a guy every week, he’s ultimately not going to make much money off of me. But if this person is feeding me, I want to give him more money than the cost of broccoli. So, provided I knew and/or could find out the person who grew the food I’m eating, I would buy the food from him and give him some extra to keep for himself. This way the feeding of broccoli to Kim can continue.
The incentive to do this, in the case of the farmer, is greater if the food I’m buying is of higher quality—for instance, organic and local. If a person can consistently deliver me high-quality food, I want to pay him more than the cost of the food. If he lives in the same community as me, and he’s simply a cool guy, those are pluses.
Paying for Inspiration—in All Places
“If… he’s simply a cool guy,” leads to the next piece of this—the unconventional piece. This is in regards to people who I haven’t explicitly done business with, such as by buying goods from them or agreeing to pay them for a service. This is about paying people who have helped me mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually, and in an informal fashion.
Let’s say that you and I meet. We have a conversation, and we hit it off. We’re both interested in the things we tell each other about, and we get along well. Not only that, but I feel very trusting of you, and I’m comfortable with talking to you about challenges I’m having. You listen intently, share relevant thoughts and experiences of yours, and encourage me. Ultimately, in that moment, you enhance the quality of my life. You raise my spirits. You increase my energy.
Especially if this happened consistently, whereby I could reliably go to you whenever I had a problem I wanted to talk about, I would definitely want to pay you.
Now, this is where social norms make things feel weird. You might get it in your head that we aren’t really friends anymore: once the money passes from my hand to yours, you become my unofficial life coach or therapist or something of the sort. You might think that it’s your job to play this role in my life. You may very well expect me to pay you again. Hell, you might even start to charge me every time I want to talk to you about the intimate details of my life.
Friends don’t pay each other, you’d say. Payment is for professionals.
But let’s question those social norms. What really would be so damaging or friendship-corroding about me paying you? When I step outside the context of social conventions, I don’t see how the introduction of money into a relationship inherently creates problems.
The real problem is the way that we as humans relate to money, which is kind of weird. We want it- lots of it- yet we consider it to be “dirty,” and we assume that people who do have lots of it had to do dishonorable things in order to get it. We regard money much the same way we regard sex. It’s great, but if you have a lot of it you’re simultaneously envied and frowned upon. Lots of people indirectly spew their bitterness at you.
Incidentally, if you exchange money for sex, you will find your ass behind metal bars. I suspect this is no mere coincidence.
Anyway, I’ll give you another example. The article A Return With Love recounted my going back to college in Spring 2016 after taking a semester off (just so you know, there is no school in my life right now). I talked about being distressed while making my class schedule because I was basically deciding between a bunch of classes that I didn’t want to take (I ultimately found my way out of that).
While I was sitting at a school computer, considering my options rather miserably, a man who had also just signed up for classes said hello to me. Then we talked for an hour and a half, and I had a great time. All of my worry had been left behind, and after we parted ways I had much more clarity about my class situation—even though he and I didn’t talk about it at all. The clarity came, to an extent, from feeling good about my life and being in a state of joy.
If I saw that dude again, and I could get past the weirdness of it all, I would pay him for that. Yes, for simply brightening my day. I feel no obligation to do it. I just want to. He deserves it. He improved the quality of my life. What the heck is better than that?
(I’d probably give him $20. That’s just the figure that’s coming to mind right now. It’s totally arbitrary.)
Walking the Talk
Now that I have said all these things, I know life is going to test me. It’ll tease me. I’ll get the inclination that I ought to pay someone, and I won’t do it because, “Oh, it’s too weird,” I’ll say, or, “Nah—it’ll ruin the purity our friendship.” Or, worse, “The other person might turn into a kook and start trying to extract every cent from me they can. I’ll pass.”
That will go on for a while, until one day I finally get the thought to pay someone and I actually offer them money. It will be strange when this happens, yet it will be one of those unforgettable moments of life when you’re doing something totally outside of your comfort zone and you feel so alive. It’ll be kinda scary, and it will be great. I’ll love it. And as long as the other person takes my damn money when I give it to them, I’m sure they’ll love it, too. :)
The biggest area of uncertainty I see with this idea is in physically intimate relationships. I suppose I would feel strange about paying someone who I have slept with at some point or another, unless it’s an explicit business transaction (e.g. paying them to fix the roof of my house). I won’t over-analyze that issue here, though. It will get sorted out with experience… Eventually.
Yes, that is the other piece of this. Not only do I have to get past the social conventions that suppress this idea—I also have to get past my own inhibitions around having and spending money. At this point in time it’s hard for me to walk the financial talk I’m making here. Yet, I have a feeling that if I just lean into this desire, that will change. It’s just a feeling, but I can believe it.
The reasoning I can give in support of that feeling is this: money is attention in physical form. Whatever you give money to expands in your reality. So, if I give money to things that I find valuable, then I am funding the continued creation of that value. Therefore, even more of that value can come into my life. So it’s a positive feedback loop of giving money and receiving value: the more I give, the more I receive. And when you regard money as simply being a form of energy, then it doesn’t really matter who’s giving what. It’s all giving. It’s all value that’s getting passed around— you feel cared for, and so you fund things that you care about. Thus, let your cashflow be an extension of your caring.
All in all, there’s no backing out of this idea. I’m not saying you should adopt it, but for my part this must be explored. It’s too interesting and compelling. It draws me in.
Where will I start, I wonder…
By the way, I am ever so sorry if you were hoping this was an article about digital currency, such as Bitcoin. I see the potential of this, and I think its ability to be exchanged across the Internet in very small quantities (such as 1 cent—or even less) will contribute to this “informal economy” I’ve proposed here. I definitely will explore digital currency at some point.
Also, I must ask that you don’t start trying to be really nice to me with the hope that I’ll pay you. If you do that, I’ll charge you. Joke’s on you. ;)
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