The Psychology of Provision

money makes the world go around, the world go around

money makes the world go around, the world go around

I remember when I learned what money meant.  It wasn’t only dollars and cents; it was divisions and definitions.  Who you are, what you can have, what you can’t have, how you can make a life for yourself–all these things manifested materially.

It was Barbie.  In the Walmart toy aisle.  With the red cowgirl outfit.

Mom explains that she was expensive.  Like a Christmas gift.  Suddenly, the $20 on her price tag took on value.  They represented the paper money in Mom’s wallet, the hours Dad was gone during the day working to earn that money, the weeks and months I would have to wait to have her, and the thrill of possession when she was finally mine.  Although the toys have changed, the psychology of provision doesn’t really.

My dad still worries that he can’t provide us enough.  Or he wonders if we are grateful for what we have.  He views life itself as a luxury; we try to problem-solve it.  There is a generational gap, and there is a generational discourse that happens in every penny, every exchange.

Toy Story 3 and its preceding films have picked up on this theme of materialization.  The filmmakers at Pixar understand that the abstract expression such as love, care, attention, protection, etc. are made real through objects.  We need food, shelter, and warmth to survive, of course, but those delicacies of philosophy that make Life happen must be brought to earth.  Plastic and metal and electricity and wood–these mediums often bear its weight.  Toy Story 3 was brave enough to take us to the brink of its destruction: what does the deterioration, the breaking down of our material world say about those immaterial things that it represents?  What does my brother’s decision to upgrade his cell phone and get his own plan say about his relationship with my dad?

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