Mad men. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

Is it Really Money You Want?

Mad men. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z
Mad men. NYC, 2017

My theory: if you thought of life like an RPG (role playing game)— money is quite useless.


1. Gold is useless

Cindy behind red curtain. Kyoto, 2017
Kyoto, 2017 #cindyproject

You start an RPG, essentially naked with no money, no armor, no weapons, no nothing. You must go on an adventure to procure money, tools, resources, allies, items, potions, armor, weapons, and you must kill a lot of enemies and monsters to gain “experience points”, to “level up” your character (strength, agility, dexterity, magic, etc).

NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

But the thing is— it isn’t really money you want in the game. No, money (gold) is only a good stepping stone in the game. At a certain point, when you have enough “town portals”, potions, and basic items and equipment — you would prefer to spend your time to level up your character, challenge yourself with new quests, new bosses, and new adventures. And rather than obtaining gold or money, you would prefer to have more powerful and unique weapons, armor, and objects.

Suits. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z
Suits. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

2. We crave new adventures

Blue and green urban landscape. NYC, 2017

Now in real life, we are still dependent on money. We unfortunately cannot run around, kill monsters, and enemies to “level up” and gain “experience points”. Another problem: there is no way we can “quantify” our progress in real life — we don’t have a good way to “keep score” in terms of how well we are doing (or not doing).

Grace building. NYC, 2017
Grace building. NYC, 2017

So I think unfortunately, most people quantify their progress in real life with money. With job titles. With promotions. With how many “unique items” you have in your inventory— but instead of having rare swords, armor, and tools, we have expensive luxury cars, luxury clothes, and antique art works.

But… I think in video games, what we really want is to go on adventures and quests. We want to challenge ourselves. We don’t want the weapons and armor for the sake of it— no, we want those rare items (which aren’t just pretty, they have more powerful attributes) to kill more difficult bosses, and conquer more difficult missions.

New York City skyline urban landscape.

We only desire the tools in order to strengthen and protect us for more difficult challenges in life.

3. What do you really desire?

Cup of espresso. NYC, 2017

Think about it. Of course if you live in a sprawling suburb it is good to have a car. It is much more effective to move around, and go on adventures. If you live in a Los Angeles suburb, you are essentially a prisoner in your own home without a car.

Street portrait. Woman with chain necklace. NYC, 2017
Street portrait. Woman with chain necklace. NYC, 2017

When I was 15 years old, I got my permit and then soon at 16, got my driver’s license. I drove a shitty car, but I didn’t care— it was the freedom of movement I was seeking, not the car itself. The car was only a means to the movement.

Korean veteran. American flag. NYC.
Korean War veteran. NYC, 2017

Consider us today—we think it is the expensive luxury and powerful sports cars we desire — but in actuality, we seek freedom. We seek more power, and for us men— we seek to feel more masculine by driving a more powerful car, or owning a more expensive wrist watch. Or for us photographers, we seek more artistic power via more powerful and expensive cameras and tools.

Looking up. NYC architecture, 2017
Looking up. NYC architecture, 2017

But what do we all really want and desire? More challenge. More risk. Higher rewards. More glory. More adventure. More epic quests. More fun. Less boredom. More movement. More freedom. Less time stuck in a cubicle and surfing the web — more time exploring the world, seeking knowledge and wisdom, and self-empowerment.

And for what?

Cartier construction worker

Ultimately for me — it was to empower myself, to discover what my true passions really were (obtaining knowledge, empowering myself, and empowering others) and also making art (art which empowers me, and art which encourages others to make their own art).

4. What do you really need or desire money for?

Sunset. Fort Lee, New Jersey 2017
Sunset. Fort Lee, New Jersey 2017

I don’t have the answers for you. But I want you to really think, and ask yourself:

For what reason do I really want, desire, or crave money? Do I want money for security, for tools to empower myself, or to travel? Do I see money as the ultimate end, or just as a means to the end?

Man cleaning display. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

What kind of life do I really want to live? What tools do I really need to achieve my monster goal, or monster of a life’s task?

Suit in the bathroom washing his hands at whole foods. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

Do I already have enough money and tools in my inventory to achieve my life goals? What if I already have too much tools or money, which actually might be distracting me, and holding me back?

Two women having a conversation. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

So friend, what’s your great life’s task, your magnum opus, you want to achieve in your short life? Share your passions and ideas in ERIC KIM FORUM.

Ceiling clouds. New York Public Library. Pentax 645Z



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