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Like most kids who grew up poor, I have a love-hate relationship with money.

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For most of my life I’ve alternately shunned it and run towards it at top speed. I came to realize after making some major mistakes (ahem, marriage, ahem) that money wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go in life. No matter how much money I threw at some things, it didn’t help.

After this revelation, I at first saw money like I really should see food: It’s essential to life, but too much of it will make you fat and bitter, and if you leave it lying around, it tends to attract parasites.

This was back when having too much money lying around was an actual risk for me.

There’s a joke that goes like this: Anyone who says that money doesn’t buy happiness never met a divorce attorney. Well, there is some truth in that, but generally money loses its subjective value during a contested divorce because so much of it disappears so quickly that the velocity makes it seem worthless.

So now I’ve devised a better philosophy that isn’t just an axiom on the downsides of an overflowing surplus of cash. I gotta keep it real.

And here it is: You must learn to see money like a spatula.

Spatulas are good. I wouldn’t want to try to cook eggs without a spatula. I have a few spatulas and I’m glad I do. I wouldn’t want to be without my spatula if one got lost or broken. I enjoy using my spatula. When I use my spatula to cook for people I love, I am happy I can use my spatula to please them. They say I can make eggs pretty well with my spatula.

However, I have no fixation on spatulas. I don’t have extensive plans to increase my spatula holdings. I don’t walk around the mall flashing my spatula. If I found that my spatula was coming between me and a good relationship or job satisfaction, I’d probably give away my spatula. If I lost all my spatulas, it wouldn’t convince me that life was no longer worth living. I’d get by somehow.

So I think I have a healthy relationship with spatulas.

But I don’t believe everyone does.

I can honestly say that I would avoid people who lusted for spatulas. Ones who judged others by their spatulas and how many they owned. Ones who asked about my spatula before having a friendly conversation with me. Ones who ran away from me when they found out I had lost my spatula while in Las Vegas, or who lectured me about my misjudgment in donating my unused spatulas. I would feel a need to avoid anyone whom I could tell was only stringing me along so they could finally get their hand on my 2004 Oxo stainless spatula because they had been educated to believe that it would make them happy and fulfilled in life:  The one spatula to rule them all.

I would see such people as tedious, deranged, or even damned in some way.

“Yes, I have a spatula. What of it? Is it spatula week on Discovery Channel or something?”

That’s what I’d probably say.

See part 2 here: MORE SPATULA SCHOOL