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107. What is Money?

We tend to think of money simply as something we must have in order to buy what we want and need in life, and yet when you really think about it you start to realise that it is much more complex than that. For some, money is about material possessions, for others security, for others an indication of personal value, as in wealth, earnings, or gifts. For others money means love, power, kindness, compassion, control - just about anything you can think of in fact. This week's tip is a story about money and what it can mean. Don't forget, if you or your friends would like to view past tips, you can do so by clicking here. And if you'd like to forward these tips to a colleague or friend just click below. 'So you think that money is the root of all evil. Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?' Ann Rand, Novelist. Last Saturday evening I was in a coffee shop in Piccadilly with a friend. We'd spent the day at a workshop on money. At about half eight we parted, having nattered for more than three hours. Warmed by her company I stepped out into a bleak November night. It had been raining all day, but now, added to the rain was a bitter wind that gusted icily up the avenue and wrapped its merciless self around every exposed body part it could find. I put up my umbrella, braced against the wind, and headed east along Piccadilly. A short way along I saw a young girl, late teens, maybe early twenties, sitting in front of a shop window. her legs were tucked into a red sleeping bag, sodden with rain. Under a woolly hat was a small, pale, bespectacled face. Rain fell in large drops on her hat and then joined in rivulets running down her cheeks. I faltered for a moment, saddened by her plight, then passed on by. A few yards further down a man sat in a doorway, calling for change. He was dry and I wondered why the young girl hadn't settled herself here, or in another doorway. She was on my mind. I should have stopped and talked to her, I thought, given her some money. I walked a bit further, the rain falling more heavily now, the windwhipping noisily through the Christmas decorations. I stopped, took out my wallet, found a ten pound note and hurried back along the street. I passed the man in the doorway again, 'Any change please,' he droned. I peered ahead of me, looking for the red sleeping bag. Someone had got there first. A woman in a beautiful fur-trimmed balaclava was bent towards her. 'Can you not find a place in a hostel?' she was asking. 'No,' said the girl, 'social services won't help me 'cos I'm single and I got no kids,' she said. 'Where will you sleep tonight?' asked the woman. 'Well there's this place near the station,' she says, 'there's four of us see, there are heaters there and we get the cardboard round us to keep us warm.' 'Would you not be better in the doorway along there?' I asked her. 'No,' she said, 'I tried that but there's a man in there, he's an alcoholic, and he shouted at me and told me to get out or he'd thump me.' The woman had her wallet out by now, and was delving in the notes compartment. She pulled out two twenty pound notes, folded them and gave them to the girl. The girl looked at them with disbelief. 'Oh no,' she said, 'you can't give me that much, no no that's too much.' I handed her my ten pound note. Her eyes widened, incredulous. 'I've got to give you both a hug,' she said, 'I've got to!' She struggled to her feet, the soggy sleeping bag dropping round her ankles, and put her arms around me. I felt a soft, child's kiss on my cheek. 'I'll never forget this,' she said, 'I'll never forget this.' Nor will I, I thought. Try this: What is money a currency for in your life? Why do you want it? What makes you part with it? What does it bring you when you do? Enjoy how you spend your money this week. love Anita