How money can signify the stages of your life

Oranmore native and RTE Chief News Editor Ray Burke (third left) presents copies of his two books – Press Delete, the history of the Irish Press, and Joyce County, the story of the places around Galway associated with James Joyce and Nora Barnacle – to President Michael D Higgins at Aras an Uachtarain, joined by Ray’s brother Charles (Oranmore), wife Marian, son Cathal, son Chris, sister Gabrielle and brother Gerard (Oranmore).
Oranmore native and RTE Chief News Editor Ray Burke (third left) presents copies of his two books – Press Delete, the history of the Irish Press, and Joyce County, the story of the places around Galway associated with James Joyce and Nora Barnacle – to President Michael D Higgins at Aras an Uachtarain, joined by Ray’s brother Charles (Oranmore), wife Marian, son Cathal, son Chris, sister Gabrielle and brother Gerard (Oranmore).

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Money has many manifestations; it’s the root of all evil and it can’t buy you love but it still manages to make the world go round and Dire Straits got it for nothing back in the day, along with their kicks for free.

But just as the rings on the bark of a tree can tell an expert its age, so too a person’s ability to deal with money can reveal the stage they’re at on the cycle of life.

This occurred to me recently as I was counting out the price of a litre of milk and I had to hold my hand away so I could properly see the coinage – as though the loose change either had a bad smell off it or was likely to otherwise explode into my face.

The problem was poor eyesight and an inability to clearly distinguish between a twenty cent and a fifty.

For some time the mantra in handing over a handful of exact change has been “you better check that” because you don’t trust your own ability to count out one euro thirty cent.

But now comes the next stage where you hold up other – younger – shoppers as you shuffle through your coppers like a tourist from a non-Euro land trying to come to terms with a strange currency.

The next stage in the ageing process, of course, is to relinquish control of your money altogether, proffering a bunch of your cash to the disinterested shop assistant and asking them to take what they need.

This cash can also include a few buttons, elastic bands, paper clips or even – presuming you’re not male and bald – a hair clip or other accoutrement to maintain some semblance of order on your head.

So in essence – as in many other aspects of life – you end up back at the start; handing over your money to the man or woman in the shop and asking them how much they need for the stuff you want to buy.

That’s the money cycle of life – from dependency to independence and right back almost to the beginning at the end.

Not quite the very beginning of course, because babies know nothing about money and if you give them a coin, they’ll swallow it.

But by the time that First Holy Communion comes around, they have someone acquired a Masters in Accountancy and can even tell how much of the folding stuff is contained inside a sealed envelope.

In the eyes of a ten year old, the success or failure of your First Communion is only partly measured in your deepening relationship with your God – the other yardstick is how much you made on the day.

And the final test is how much your parents gave you access to and how much they put away for you for a rainy day…in one of the wettest countries in the western world.

But wise as they are to the profits of religious sacrament, they’re still not great with the mechanics of money.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.