“Money is a story”.
I heard Seth Godin say that sometime ago on an episode (I don’t remember which episode) of his podcast Akimbo, and today I think understood a little more of what he meant by that.
Money has no power of it’s own.
A forest on the other hand is something of itself. With a great many majestic trees, it becomes a shelter for insects, birds, and mammals. It protects it’s inhabitants from the harsh cold winds, the unrelenting summer sun, and even from other animals.
Rivers can likewise be regarded as objects of power. With all their eddies and riffles and unfathomable micro currents and diversions, they can carve a niche right into granite.
Money can be considered more like a river than a forest, in that a primordial characteristic of both is their flow from one place to another. However, money and rivers are shown to be quite different when you stop paying attention to them. Leave a river for a few thousand years and it will create oxbow lakes, sandy pits, and deep canals. Forget about money and it becomes worthless. Oh sure, some collector may want it in a later age for it’s peculiarity, but that’s a gamble.
The power of money is not in it’s ability to do anything directly for us. The power of money lies in the ability to tell other people we have it.
What good is a billion dollar checking account if no one can access it?
What’s the use of carrying around $1,000 cash in your wallet if you live in a cashless society?
Duffel bags of hundred dollar bills are worthless if you can’t tell anyone you have them.