Sunday, 20 October 2013

Money And Fear

I awoke at 5:30 AM this morning in an absolute panic, deep in a pit of anxiety so real and permeative that I was unable to put it aside in order to return to sleep. The panic rose within me, upwards like vomit from a turbulent stomach, pushing me further and further into fear and wakefulness.

Money was the problem onto which this nameless creature fastened itself. My financial situation is not dire but it is not good, and all it takes is a little creative fear to turn mundane into murder, ordinary into overwhelming. Money is something I worry about these days, both for good reason and needlessly. In the small hours of this morning, needlessly won out and I simply lie there, drenched in the "what ifs" and "should haves" that make these moments all the more disturbing.

The truth is that my financial situation could be seen as anywhere from dire to magical, from disaster to excellent, depending on one simple variable. How long will I live? In a weird sort of way it is the very same question that almost all of us face, the question of outliving our money. Some of us have had a better kick at this cat, with lives focused on both partners making enough to live in current comfort and future comfort. Some of us have had decent long term outcomes in our financial plans. Others have not. I think I sit somewhere in the middle.

It is the uncertainty that is the worst factor. If I could know with some degree of certainty what my prognosis is then I could make a reasonable plan. It is true that none of us knows the number of our days. The challenge for me is that the uncertainty is amplified, driven by a fear made manifest in the unpredictability of ALS. There are days when I think I will live for many years; there are days when I think I will not. There are days when I feel I could go on for decades; there are days when next year seems unlikely. That is the terrible thing for me; I feel like I cannot make a plan.

I can choose to live as if I am going to live as long as anyone else, to live as if I will see my late golden years, to live as if there are plenty of tomorrows. Yet in doing so I must by the very nature of finance, limit my life now. In so doing, if I have only a few years then I will have wasted my opportunities for living my remaining life fully. I can choose to live as if time is short, but if I live long then my final years will be impecuneous. Of course my final years will, in all likelihood, be a time of dependency regardless. Yet still I don`t want to be a captive of poverty.

The only way for me to deal with this with any form of rationality is to live in the moment, make plans for the future but live for today. I think the only way for me to look at my future is somewhere around a five year horizon. That`s probably as good as it gets.

1 comment:

  1. We will make sure you are okay Honey somehow or other. Get rid of that fear. And take care of the money you do have.
    We love you.