Go For It!
By now most of us know that money is not real. I mean real in the sense that if you took your money to a bank and asked for the gold it was worth, they’d look at you like you were from another planet. And of course, at this point, money isn’t even paper. I can’t wrap my head around the idea of a bitcoin mine. Hidden somewhere in Switzerland are machines and people, feverishly creating… what? And then power-brokers are using these imaginary numbers to buy and sell the world.

Meanwhile, I get in my car and go to work every day in order to pay my mortgage (credit extended by a bank that believes I have the potential to make real money, or is it virtual?), my car payment (another set of numbers), and regular bills. I’d like to know why I can’t just go on my computer and manufacture a bunch of numbers that will pay my bills. Who gave these people the power to tell me how much money there is in the world and how it gets distributed?

Money makes the world go ‘round It makes the world go ‘round

And then I think to myself, wait a minute, Lavinia. This is actually kind of cool. If money is becoming virtual, maybe, just maybe, reality will finally do the same! Stick with me a minute. According to Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (which by the way should have been called a Brief History of Men because he sure as heck doesn’t really acknowledge the presence or contribution of women to anything in history), a thousand years ago and more, there was no such thing as “extending credit.” People believed that money was real, and there was only so much of it in the world. So if they “loaned” it, someone was bound to lose out (never a borrower nor a lender be!) Hence, there were no entrepreneurs. No new saddle shops. No cool bakeries. No innovations in farming technology.

Then the idea of believing in a “better future” appeared, a kind of betting that things would go right. So a bank could extend credit based on the belief that they would be profiting from someone else later, even though there was no “real” money in the exchange. Innovation and entrepreneurship exploded!

Those of us privileged enough to get credit move upward. Yes, even though it feels like a burden, the fact that you can get a car loan or a mortgage, or even a credit card, puts you into a higher status than those who have “no credit.” So those who use unreal money are better off than those who actually believe money comes from hard work. It’s OK to be in debt as long as you make your monthly payment.

So if money isn’t real, maybe we aren’t either. A thousand years ago, the only virtual reality available was an occasional visitation from God, a bad trip from ergot-laced rye bread, or perhaps a judicious use of a psilocybin mushroom. Sure there was storytelling, and even bouts of theater. But Orson Welles’ broadcast of the War of the Worlds aside, most people did not get immersed; movies and TV were simply movies and TV.

Then came video games. As they have evolved over the last century (yes ladies and gentlemen, the first video game, Pong, was created 50 years ago!!!) they have gone from being called an addictive, brain damaging waste of time, to an important, useful experiential immersion that will make us (ahem) better human beings. In fact, virtual reality games pride themselves on making us feel like we are “really there.”

If we all believe in money and it’s not real, how long will it be before we believe that virtual reality games are indeed reality? And what if, what if, it’s already happened and we didn’t notice? That would certainly explain waking up one morning to find Donald Trump was our president. Whoever is playing the virtual reality game that is US must have been pretty bored.

I know many people who would like to start their own businesses, who have brilliant ideas, or a wish to be on their own, who won’t make the leap. They often quote extenuating circumstances: family responsibilities, health insurance, the uncertainty of the market. I grew up with a Father who you might now call a serial entrepreneur. He failed every time. Our basement was filled with boxes of stationery for The Plonka Company. But somehow it never stopped him, and inspired all his children to do the same. (Some of us even started by using the stationery.)

There was a point in my life where I was one of the most highly paid Bar Mitzvah mimes in the business. (I bet you didn’t even know there was a bar mitzvah mime business – now that’s a niche market). But I needed to move on. I needed to try to become a Feldenkrais teacher. I needed to quit and start again. It was an agonizing decision. Finally, my inner voice asked, “Well, if you quit performing, what is the worst thing that can happen?”

“I’d starve,” was my answer. I paused then said out loud, “I’d rather starve.” I’m not going to say it was easy. I did go through a period of rice and beans, and baking my own bread. But I never actually starved. Perhaps that wasn’t part of my program.

Years ago, during one of my broke periods, my chiropractor told me that money is simply energy, and giving and receiving money is an energy exchange. That understanding has remained with me. Money moves, that’s why it’s called a currency. You just have to get into the flow and it will come as the result of your good work. What’s the worst that can happen? Here’s what I’ve said to dozens of friends who were ready to try: Go for it. If all else fails, there’s a couch for you in my study. Don’t ever fear that you will starve.

In all the years I’ve lived, only three people actually ended up on my couch. And none of them for long. Because you really just need to be willing to play the game. I don’t know if I’m just a character in someone’s game, but I like to think that I’m finally starting to understand the rules.

When not leaping into the abyss, Lavinia helps people realize their dreams via the Feldenkrais Method.

Lavinia Plonka
Written by Lavinia Plonka