More Than Money
Issue #29

Money Changes Everything

Table of Contents

“Unexpected Vision Quest”

By Lynnaea Lumbard

Money changes everything, but it wasn't going to change me. I wouldn't quit my job, change my friends, or be like others who had inherited money. I had created a life for myself offering workshops around the country and I wasn't going to change it just because I'd inherited money.

When it happened, I was forty-two, single, and a workaholic. I was at the top of my field, yet I had no social life. I loved my work and hated my lifestyle. Then my mother died and I inherited a monthly income twice what I was making in a good year. Suddenly, I didn't need to work for money. What a life-shattering thought.

I didn't let it shatter my life, though-not at first. I decided I wouldn't stop working, though I would stop getting paid. I worked more and more, without taking a salary. It turned out to be an untenable shift for a business partnership that had started out as equal. Neither my partner nor I could deal with the fact that I was not working for money and she was. I soon left the company I had co-founded nine years before.

For the next several years, my life followed the classic pattern of a Vision Quest: Severance (leaving the known world behind), Threshold (entering a sacred time and space that is permeable to new possibilities), and Reincorporation (bringing the learnings back into daily life and community). Gradually, I severed from my old life and entered a period of questing that took years. During this Threshold period, I studied, traveled, and moved halfway across the country. I got married and learned how to be a wife. I met new people who were in the same situation: recipients of excess resources learning how to use them in creative and socially responsible ways. I began to let joy and fun guide me, rather than fear and obligation.

Eventually, out of the chaos of the Threshold period emerged a vision of where to go next. I knew it was time to commit to life anew and begin the process of Reincorporation. Over the past few years, I have forged a new life with new rhythms and patterns, new people, in new geographic regions. I have become a philanthropist and an activist. I have recreated my work in entirely new forms that are exciting, fulfilling, and sustainable.

Looking back, I see that for a while I believed that inheriting money had changed my destiny. I had been going in a particular direction, had things pretty much in order, and thought I knew what was next. Then, like a flash flood, a torrent of money eroded the banks of my former life and the structure of my life collapsed. I was swept off into an alien universe for which I had no orientation.

What really changed, though, were the resources available to me to manifest my destiny. Inheriting money forced me to change the form my life took in the world, the "container" through which I poured my life force. I couldn't stop the money from coming toward me, so I had to find some way to be in relationship with it. My inheritance had been generated four generations ago. I could no longer turn away from my ancestors and my lineage. I had to take on the destiny of my clan line, for better or worse.

My central question became: how would I do that? What could I do with the money that would be in alignment with who I am and what my gifts are? Gradually, I learned that the money hadn't changed the core of my inner values: consciousness, compassion, beauty; honor, humor, humility; unconditional love and personal accountability. So I asked myself: what does a life look like that reflects these values, when it can look like anything?

Grappling with these questions has become a profound spiritual journey. My commitment now is to develop a sacred relationship between who I am and the resources I've been given. Money may have changed everything about the old container that was my life, but it hasn't changed the nature of my soul. It has allowed me the time to question: what motivates anything I do if I'm not trying to survive? What qualities do I want to have motivate my action? To what is my life dedicated?

My choice now is be fully present for who I am and what I have. That is the gift of having more money than I need. I am a wealthy, white, well-educated, fifty-two-year-old American woman. Now I say to myself: what is the most creative, loving, passionate, challenging, healing and beautiful life that I can create with those givens?

My journey has taught me that money changes everything, except that which is most essential.

Lynnaea Lumbard, Ph.D., has been a workshop leader in transformational psychology for thirty years. In 1986 she co-founded her own national seminar company. More recently she and her husband formed Naos Foundation , which offers transformational training programs.

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