Thursday, October 18, 2007

Debt is Normal. Be Weird

Coming in to work this morning I saw a car with a bumper sticker that read “Debt is Normal. Be Weird”. Ha! That made me laugh. I used to be one of those people in debt. I understand what it can be like to want stuff and unconsciously rack up a nice credit card balance.

I went into debt because I wanted stuff, and I wanted stuff so I could feel good about myself and my life. Now I look back at myself and laugh. At the time when I had debt I was not laughing I was actually experiencing a lot of anxiety and stress. I was a walking paradox. I was buying stuff so I could feel better about myself and my life. Yet the excess purchasing was causing me to feel bad about myself, my life, and my finances.

As the bumper sticker implied (now) I would probably be considered weird. I have no debt, I buy stuff that I need (ok, sometimes I do fall off the wagon), and if I do not have the cash flow I refrain from buying (well, sometimes I do fall off the wagon). I do feel better about myself and my life since I do not have the stress and anxiety which happens with excess debt.

As so many environmental messages imply when we make a decision to genuinely create health in our lives (financial health, economic health, physical health) the planet inadvertently benefits. I would like to say that I got out of debt and stopped unnecessary purchasing to help the planet, but that would be a lie. My primary reason was to reduce financial stress. Inadvertently I helped the planet.

Just to clarify I am not saying purchasing is a bad thing. I am saying that purchasing stuff that I do not need is not helpful. I believe purchasing is an action that can generate good and can benefit people and the planet (in moderation).

From a spiritual perspective the debt mucked up my relationship with God. I was so busying worrying about how to pay off my credit cards that contemplating my relationship with the natural world, with my pets, or with Allah was almost non-existent. Also I was completely absorbed in finding fulfillment through things. Intellectually I understood that things could not fulfill me but breaking the cycle (I will speak about this in another post) was hard.

Finding fulfillment from listening to the wind move through the trees, or hearing a bird sing, or in silent meditation, or watching my cat go crazy for cat marijuana (cat nip), or having tea with a friend is a high that has no comparison. Best part...its all free!!!

I never thought of myself as weird until I read the bumper sticker. I have to say life feels better in this weird place.


Dina Badawy (United States) said...

i like that quote. unfortunately, i guess i'm considered "normal" by having debt (which is sad) from just finishing school and the basics for livelihood. i kinda wish it was from something i was enjoying. according to studies in the past few years (, the average family is in debt because of two things: 1) flat wages 2) increased costs of food, housing, medical. obviously not all people in debt are in that condition because of life's basics, many people do overspend on plastic.

but in relation to cutting back on spending in general, going green is really useful because using less energy = saving money! so whether you're in debt because of that plasma or because you haven't gotten a raise in 10 years, you still cut living costs and save money. how awesome is that.

Mohamad A. Chakaki said...

"listening to the wind move through the trees..." this is one of my favorite sounds in the world. could this be how trees praise their Creator?

salaam :)

anilamuhammad said...

Going green=less money used = healthier people, more money in my bank account, healthy planet. Yes its pretty awesome.

Mohamad - "could this be how trees praise their Creator?" - I often have wondered the same thing. I know in the Quran it states something to the affect that creation is in constant worship of Allah. So I am going to say Yes! Indeed the trees and the wind are praising their creator. And to borrow from Dina…How Awesome Is That!! Pretty Awesome indeed.

Sanjana said...

one of the strange things we noticed after moving to arlington was that you don't hear leaves rustling in the wind (sadly) but rather the wind rushing between the tall buildings which creates this scary howling noise, subhanAllah.

anilamuhammad said...

The leaves rustling thing is a big deal for me. Right now I am looking to buy a house and I told my realtor that I need a place with mature trees. I need to hear the trees and the wind. I find it to be very calming.

Sanjana said...

me TOO. i cant really deal with the urban environment (and metro commutes). i should just quit my day job and live on a farm...or the beach ;) my parents house in east TN has amazing trees masha'Allah.

anilamuhammad said...

That's my own a farm where I could have animals, milk my cows, collect eggies from my chickens, have an organic garden. Either that or living on a commune.

anilamuhammad said...

How much debt do you think it would take to own and run a farm?

Sanjana said...

no debt if we save and then pool our money together ;)

Dina Badawy (United States) said...

mohamad what a beautiful way of looking at that :)

can i join you ladies on that farm you're planning on running? it sounds fabulous

ps: have we met before? i used to live in DC for the past few years, so we shouldve crossed paths if you live in VA

anilamuhammad said...

I heard of a group of Muslims who own a lot of land an live off of it. A few families got together and started this. Forget where it is located. So it is possible. Muslim hippies...has a nice ring :)

I am from Canada (Mississauga) originally and moved to Indy about 5 years ago. Been to the DC area once.

Dina Badawy (United States) said...

oh, sorry..I thought you were all in DC because I read something in a post about Virginia, and then the front page had a link to DC farmers market.

lol, and yeah that has a nice ring to it anila

Sanjana said...

salaams dina, i'm in northern VA but don't think we've met. (a late) welcome to the blog :)

if you're interested in env issues, check out the green muslims yahoogroups - email green_muslims to sign up.

Omaira said...

If any of you have ever left your window open or been outside during the wee morning hours, the sound of the birds is truly actually crescendo at some you mentioned Anila, sometimes in our daily living and struggle to get through the day, we forget these simple things...according to scholars fajr and maghrib are among the times that living things are making dhikr, rememberance of Allah.

Once we were hiking through the mountains with Sh Hamza Yusuf in New Mexico, and he said respect the gravity of these was just a very profound way to immerse oneself in and be with nature...

Can I join you guys on the farm? Will there be horses? :)

Anila, you're from Mississauga? A westender! I'm from Markham/Scarborough eastend Toronto...small world. :)

anilamuhammad said...

I am hoping all the animals on the farm with be rescues, including the horses.

Omaira - I wonder if we have mutual friends?