Curitiba, very early in the morning, we have a deep deep fog, and yesterday i dreamt of my father.
Curiously, whenever i talk to people and i manage to skip the boring stuff about “who i am” and “what do i do for a living” and start telling them some stuff about things that i do, or things that i think, or projects that i have, curiously they almost never ask about what this dream with my father meant.
They almost without exception ask where do i get the money to do all that i do.
Believe me, really, i have no qualms about that. I don’t. I would be OK with going to the nearest ATM and showing them my money movements, but… That’s not a good question. In the sense that if they did follow all my balances they would be no closer to «doing all that i do», or to «being all that i am», or even (which is hoping for too much) understanding that this doesn’t make any difference. My life was no holiday. I had my fair share of adventure, and there is but a precious few things i regret (mostly because i did go about remedying what i did regret), but none of that was about money. More precisely, more or less money would make very very little difference, at least it wouldn’t make difference about what mattered the most.
So, asking me where i got the money for it is bound to take you into the wrong trail. It will make you understanding me worse. It is a red herring you planted yourself.
One story, to kinda serve as illustration of the problem. I am here in Curitiba (though probably leaving to São Paulo soon), spending some days at my friend Luiz’s house, and at the moment he is really into Couch Surfing, so there is a constant flux of gringos around. The other day there were three Czechs here, and the girl asked me exactly it. I tried to explain the whole philosophy to her, but i don’t really think she got any of it. But she also said something else. She said Brazilians don’t travel.
Well, don’t we?
Maybe i am a really really atypical guy here — not because i travel a lot, she said i was the exception, the first Brazilian she met who did travel — but because most of the people i know do travel. So… Maybe she, looking from the outside, has a more precise idea of this stuff than i do, i am pretty sure i could be wrong. But i have this another thesis that would explain everything as well as “Brazilians don’t travel”. This idea goes somewhat like that:
Brazilians do travel but instead of going to the Amazon we go to Pantanal. We tend to not know Iguazu Falls, which happen to be the greatest falls in the world or something like that (i had no idea of that, but one of the gringos informed as an explanation of why they do want to go there anyway), but we go to Piri, whose falls don’t even get to 1/10 of Iguazu, but there are no tour guides around (also, more pot). And, i mean, even people who do not have money go there, people who maybe don’t spend in 6 months the price of a Brazil → Czech_Republic plane ticket. Less adventurous than going to Laos, maybe, but still qualifies as «travel» in whatever meaning you chose to this world.
But just imagine. A girl from the Czech Republic asks you if you do travel. I don’t know anyone who will answer with that time she went to Piri three weeks ago, it does not compare. It just does not sound as good. So you will try to remember this time you went to Laos. Or just say that you don’t travel too much. Sounds better. Does not mean you don’t travel.
Asking “Do you travel?” is not a good question. It is not interesting. It’s boring. Exactly as asking “Where do you get the money from?”. It does not take you into the right track. Does not shed light onto anything.
I have this very personal, very idiosyncratic grudge against people thinking that “money moves the world”. Not because i think it doesn’t, not because i think something else does. It is just… It is boring. Believing in that is boring. I appreciate the view when it is part of a larger, meaningful, world-view. And i do know some people who have a viewpoint all of their own, of which this thing with money is part of, and it is an interesting out-take: But it is much much more difficult to have an interesting way of thinking when you are going to repeat such tired and wasted dicta.
So, let’s imagine that when someone asks me where i do take the money from they do not want to emulate me or get an investment tip, they are trying to understand. In that case, i used to answer that: Wasting less makes the same effect as winning more. Which is, basically, what moves me, financially. Live without. Not only money, but money too. Live without money. Live without a salary. Live without anything that requires money to run. Can you do it? But that is not even important, just denying yourself things you got used to believe you needed help you to see how you can depend on yourself.
As i write this, i realize my answers have not been too good in helping people see things my way. But i also am not trying to make people see things my way. Not too long ago, it was very important to me to do it. I really, really wanted people to see things my way. And that happens to be one of the most refined forms of violence. But i learned, or at least i am trying to learn, to live without trying to make people see things my way. Just because it was so important to me.
And, really, i don’t think the girl should have asked me anything else. It is OK. I am pretty sure their travel through Brasil is gonna be great, that they will learn a lot about life and the world and everything else that they would not if they were back home, and i am pretty sure all of that is being very deeply important to them. But i also think they do not understand Brasil.
I think it is not the point, i think it is not important to them to understand Brasil. I don’t think they want to see the world from the eyes of a Brazilian. I think they want to see the world from the eyes of a Czech who’s been through Brasil. More than once. But those are different things.
I realize that sounds extremely judgemental, and it is OK if you choose to read this post as this. As a criticism of gringos. I am pretty criticizing of them, i’ll admit. In fact, in many ways, this whole post has been an exorcism of the critic-of-foreigners inside me. I don’t say so in order for you to forgive me. I couldn’t care less.
It’s just… I’m curious. You know, too frequent occurrences look like they have a cause, even if they don’t. And this question of the money does come up unnervingly often. And…
I mean. I dreamt of my father yesterday. And he was driving. Doesn’t that reveal a whole lot more about my travellings than the whole money thing??? And: Isn’t “What does that mean?” a much more important question?