Moon Boots and the love of money

Christian Dior Ladies Charcoal Moon Boots

When I was a kid, we were poor.

I’m an adult now and guess what? I’m still poor – I have a poor temperament, I lack wisdom and some even say that I have poor hygiene. But of all these things, financial struggles are a common occurrence which puts me in the same boat with the majority of the world’s population, right?

As a kid my parents sheltered me from the financial hardship and did everything they could to provide me and my siblings with a good life. But it’s hard for a kid to recognize and be grateful for the sacrifices your parents make when all you see are the comforts and luxury items your friends have when you go to school.

Envy is an ulcer that festers.

Envy is unlawful and I was a repeat offender as a kid. I was especially bad in winter when all the palagi kids arrived at school snuggled in their warm parkas, snow boots and ski gloves to protect them from the harsh winter winds and fallen snow. My siblings and I would often show up to school in hand-me-down coats with our hands buried deep within the folds of our pockets, careful not to venture off the snow-cleared paths for fear that wet toes would not dry before the final bell rang to signal the end of the miserable school day.

I felt so sorry for myself back then. I feel more sorry for my school age self today – sorry that he only recalled later in life that there were palagi kids in the same class who didn’t have a coat much less a hand-me-down one. Sorry that he didn’t recognize until later in life that cold, wet toes eventually warm up and dry up but the cold feeling your parents must have felt when you accused them of being insensitive to your needs. And did my mother’s tears ever cease to wet her cheeks every time they were shed for my wanton selfishness?

I thought I knew what being poor is like. But when our family moved to Samoa, I finally saw what poverty really looks like. The biting and inexorable truth was that I was far better off than most kids my age and yet I only chose to look at what I didn’t have, rather than be grateful for the things that I already possessed and none of it through my own merit and labor.

Author Oscar Wilde said, “Irony is wasted on the stupid.” Though I have been accused of many things, I have tried earnestly, yes tirelessly, to safeguard myself from stupid notions, vices, etc. but I am human and we humans are prone to (and afforded) a few boneheaded moments now and then. Yet at that point in my life I was quick to note the error in my judgment and gradually came to the painful and humbling understanding that my perception of what was, was certainly far from the truth.

The unexpected factor in this revelation of my selfishness was the fact that the people whom I thought were poor in Samoa, never considered themselves as such. In fact, it was often those individuals whom had very little who gave more freely of their time and substance than those of us who horded away useless, material things.

Hindsight is the only sight that reveals our true character.

I learned a great deal from that experience. Super Mom and I try our best to teach our sons that the value we place on money in large part determines how we treat other people. It is a sad but it is something that I’ve witnessed many times in my life. Is it fact or fiction? Truth or perception? Only we can know whether the love of money or possessions is truly evil. I know that my feelings towards others including my parents and a few innocent kids who had snow boots when I didn’t were certainly influenced by my poor albeit juvenile judgment.

Today Super Mom and I encourage our sons to find employment as soon as they are able to earn an income whether its babysitting, officiating in little league games at the local recreation center or doing odd jobs. We also strongly advocate the need to perform service as often as possible. We hope that by doing the first activity that they will learn the value of hard work and determination while the latter is a push to teach them humility, modesty, sacrifice and love. Super Mom is the driving force behind that endeavor and I am grateful to her for her example. Me? I just don’t want them to repeat the sins of their father. Because if they make their mom cry the way that I made mine cry so often when I was a kid than we are all going to be in trouble.

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17 Responses to Moon Boots and the love of money

  1. Chris Ugaitafa says:

    Dang uce. Hit the nail right on the head with this one. Im becoming a fan of ur work. Thanks for the enlightenment and these words. Words can really make a person or break a person. Your mother is a strong woman for putting up with her little ulcer. lol

    • Seti Matua says:

      Thanks Chris! Ultimately this is why we blog – to share our experiences and hope that it helps someone else. Oh and yes, my mom was an exceptional human being in my eyes.

  2. Michelle Toluono says:

    Seti, your blog is always a great read!

  3. Awesome & profound thoughts. Thank you for this one!

  4. I grew up in a VERY comfortable environment and had not a clue about real poverty until I was an adult. My real eye opener came at the age of about 39 when I visited my parents who were serving a mission, in Guatemala. I saw extreme cases of financial poverty but learned very quickly how very “rich” many of those people were because they understood how to find pure joy inspire of their circumstances. They knew nothing of the modern conveniences that so many of us takr for granted. Great post! You and Super Mom are on the absolute right track. Your boys are growing into men and by having parents like the two of you, they have grown up incredibly rich!!

    • Seti Matua says:

      Thanks so much Mary – If all we do is try, than we can be happy that we did our best and support them even more if they need help later on in life. You’re absolutely right though, some people have richer lives even though financially they live below what others perceive to be the poverty line. Thanks again for visiting!

  5. awesome blog as usual bro! I didn’t know any different about being poor b/c my parents always provided for my needs. 🙂 it wasn’t until I left Samoa as a Junior in high school for a Close UP trip to Washington, D.C. that I saw the difference between my life in the islands with life in the United States. What was an eye opener for us – about 25 kids from the islands was to see homeless people run to the trashcans and dig in it for the food that we had not finished. WE all started crying – culture shock – and one of the Samoan girls asked one homeless lady- where is your family? why are you eating from the trash? …I’ll never forget her look of hopelessness as she the homeless lady said – I have no one. NO family and then returned to digging for food. Hence why we were all crying. We could not comprehend that there was a place that existed where people were all alone. Coming from an island / village life where we are surrounded by family that was unthinkable. It definitely shattered a lot of our ideas of how America was the “land of the free” in the sense that people were walking on pavements of Gold and eating and enjoying the LIFE! living da vida loca! not so…. definitely grew up that day and had an A-ha moment as well! thanks Seti! you always know what to write about that seems to be something that I need to read or say too. hugs!

    xoxo,
    Cyn.

    • Seti Matua says:

      That must have been a very traumatic experience for you. Homelessness and the transient population has always been a difficult thing for me to comprehend and its a very multi-dimensional issue. I can understand why you had a tough time seeing that coming from Samoa where, no matter where you go, people invite you into their home for a meal and a good conversation. I hope that never changes for our people.

      Faafetai lava le lagolago sua i lenei galuega fita. Always a joy Cyn!

  6. MiMi Atkins says:

    So true. There’s always someone who has it worse than our situation. At least you learned. With age comes wisdom. With experiences a lesson is taught. I hope your mom read this so she can be proud of what you became. Good read.

    • Seti Matua says:

      Yes, time has been a great teacher in my situation and continues to help me see things from a number of perspectives. Thank you so much for visiting and for your kind comments. I hope you visit often.

  7. Rita Auvaa says:

    Seti, seti , seti, I not only love your writing, but the learning for the young ones as well as us older folks, tear! tear! Thank you, mum was an amazing woman. Her legacy left behind, you children need to continue on, alofa to everyone. She’s always at our place when there is a faalavelave. I love to see her beautiful face one day. Continue on bloggging, you’ve touch lives, and good training on your boys, lea e faigofie le galue i amerika, ia aua ana o samoa ia lae ko kiapula in the ma’umaga, a ea? Alofa atu, rita

    • Seti Matua says:

      Talofa Rita – Yes, having seen the life in Samoa it really made me change my mind even as a kid to be lotomaualalo (humble) and to show alofa (love) to everyone and anyone regardless of their situation. I am definitely one who is grateful that I was not destined to a life of working the ma’umaga (plantation). Thanks for your praise of mom – she was truly an incredible human being. Alofa tele atu mo oe, Auva’a ma le fanau.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been reading a few of your posts and I have to say you succeeded in your second goal as well, enjoy your posts about Samoa and being a Samoan a lot but I might just be biased to those topics lol. I feel like we probably crossed paths somewhere since it seems as if we know most of the same people, live in the same state, went to the same school in Samoa although probably different at different times, weird isn’t it…

  9. samoanwoman says:

    I’ve been reading a few of your posts and I have to say you succeeded in your second goal as well, enjoy your posts about Samoa and being a Samoan. I feel like we probably crossed paths somewhere since it seems as if we know most of the same people, live in the same state, went to the same school in Samoa although probably different at different times, weird isn’t it…

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