The second session of the Landmark Money seminar takes place in a toppling pile of fear and shame. It’s everywhere. One hundred and fifty people, all trained graduates, some with 10+, 20+ years of training, squirming in discomfort. If the room had a smell, it’d stink.
“There is no topic you can take on that is as confronting as money,” the seminar leader says.
A few people share about what it was like as they gave away a “slightly jarring” amount of money as per the homework. A woman talks about her difficulty as she contemplated giving away money.
Each day, I told my friends I would definitely give away money today, and each day I didn’t do it. As the second session came closer I knew I just had to do it. So today, I finally decided what I would do. I got a note from my wallet and waited until no-one was around and then I put it on the footpath and went and hid behind a wall so I could watch. About four or five people walked past and no-one saw the money and I said, ‘How can they not see it?’ Finally, I saw a young woman see the note and she ran over and picked it up. I saw her whole body change. When she walked off she had a real spring in her step. I felt so happy …
She and the seminar leader talk about it for a bit and then the seminar leader asks, “How much did you give away?” The woman says, “$50”. She sits down and the session moves on.
Half an hour later, the seminar leader arrives at the denouement. She’s talking about money being the subject that drives human beings crazy, that we are just not straight about money; we avoid, hide and tell lies about money. She asks who does that thing of putting all the letters that look like bills in a “special place”, ie, a place where they don’t get opened? Consider, she says, we don’t want to look at these things because we know if we did, then we’d have to take action.
It’s cutting stuff, and everyone knows it. As she’s speaking, the woman who talked about putting the note on the footpath cries out, “Please, I have to say something.” She goes to the microphone and announces, “When I was speaking before, I lied. It wasn’t a $50 note, it was a $20 note.”
The room erupts with laughter, relief, amazement. If ever there was a demonstration of the way we are about money, this is it. The seminar leader can’t quite believe how vividly her words have come to life. She’s delighted, tickled. She tells the woman, “You know, as I was asking you how much you gave, I was asking myself, ‘Should I be doing this? Is this right that I’m asking?'” Like the rest of us, it’s playing with her too.
The woman of the note says, beaming, “I can’t tell you how much better I feel. I’ve been sitting in my chair just feeling terrible …”