Live blog from the Money seminar

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I’ve just started Landmark’s Money seminar called Money: From Concern to Freedom, and over the course of the seminar which lasts about three and a half months I’m going to be blogging about my experience. There are 10 sessions in the seminar which are held on a Wednesday night. Mostly I’ll be blogging about my experience between sessions because that’s where the real work of the seminar happens.

The description of the seminar is this:

Most of the time we relate to money as something separate from ourselves – a “thing” to be managed, lost, spent or saved – but rarely do we appreciate the use of money, with its myriad implications, as a conversation that we invented to lend power to our own interactions.

The Money seminar provides a provocative enquiry into your conversation about finances. It’s not about altering the circumstances of your chequebook or world finances; rather, it examines your relationship to money, how you think about it, approach it, and use it to make decisions. This seminar examines money as power, as freedom, as burden, as opportunity.

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One of the assignments from session 1 is to “give away some money”. We are asked to give away an amount that is a little bit “too much”, an amount that is “slightly jarring”, and to notice what goes on as we try to decide how much to give away, the reason we made up to explain giving it away and what’s using us as we give it away.

It’s a weekend of birthday parties and funds are low. There are presents to buy, food to bring or buy, petrol to buy to go out of town for one of the parties. At the Saturday party, conversation turns to the assignment because some of the guests are also doing the seminar. A man asks me, “Have you given away money yet?” All of a sudden, I want to give him a large note. I offer it to him, and he accepts it graciously. I’m happy as I do it, and happy he accepts as he does. Why him? At the time, I was thinking how much I admired him and I wanted to mark it in some way.  I also remember thinking he could use it. Driving home from the party, I pull up at the lights and a man collecting for the Salvation Army appeal walks by the car. I remember I have a $5 note left so I give it to him and we have an intimate moment looking into each other’s eyes.

The next day I’m contributing to a group birthday present and I’m about to transfer the money from my bank account. The present is an expensive watch for a 50th birthday. “How much can I get away with giving?” is the thought that’s there. Then I put the thought aside and give a higher amount because it feels closer to what the man means to me. As I’m looking at my bank account I realise the extra expenses don’t seem to have made a dent in the balance.

More to come …

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