“Sometimes you have to roll the hard six.” William ‘Bill’ Adama. Battlestar Galactica.
“As long as I’m winning, I’m doing better.”
I wish someone had slapped me upside the head a few years ago.
My old philosophies were so flawed and comical, but unfortunately I had the inability to see through it at the time. I was a stranger in a strange land. Lost. Without focus.
I was of the mindset, that as long as the money was rolling in, my life would be worth living. If I was making some hard cash, without having to commit to dealing drugs or devoting time to a second job, I could dig out of whatever hole I buried myself in.
For quite a while, I did well.
Every cent I could find was set aside to the lottery. The Powerball, the Megabucks, and scratch-off tickets. I had a thirst that couldn’t be quenched. I was convinced my luck would change. I told myself good will come from the bad, and I was deserving of something wonderful in life. I needed to create my own luck and this method seemingly worked to my advantage.
I dug underneath the floor mats of my car. Scrounged through the couch cushions and if I saw any coin on the sidewalk, I plucked it up and stuffed it in my pocket.
The beauty of living with family is the fact the expenses are lowered. I took full advantage of that. My end of the deal was simple. Help out where needed and save for my own place. I kept up my end of the bargain for the first component. I helped out where needed.
I couldn’t save money if my life depended on it.
I saw money as a way to alleviate the stresses of reality. Money helped me escape. As long as money was helping me win, I was happy.
What a fool.
The old adage, “Money can’t buy happiness,” rings more truth than you may realize. Money buys things. Money helps with trips, vacations and material possessions. But happiness comes from the inside.
Sure… money is important. We need money for vehicles, food, expenses and incremental breaks, but money does NOT bring complete happiness. I can attest to that.
After a month of throwing away everything I earned, is when the bad stuff started happening. For every one of my actions, there was an equal and opposite reaction.
It happened from out of nowhere. As though the supernatural powers that be made a decision one afternoon and said, “OK… time to put a stop to this right… now.”
It started small. Easily overlooked and shrugged off. Inconveniences that made life troublesome, but not overwhelming. A flat tire. A sprained ankle. Each time I focused and devoted time to gambling, something negative happened in return. I’d purchase a Powerball ticket, and my car wouldn’t start.
Then the more noticeable began to occur. Losing my debit card. Forgetting my PIN.
Quite possibly the strangest anomaly I’ve ever encountered was sitting at the ATM, as I do every day, and my fingers hovered over the keypad trying to desperately remember the number to withdraw my money.
“I just did this earlier. What the hell is my PIN?”
Try and try and try again and eventually locked out of the system.
“I’ll call and change my number. That’s easy.”
The next day, my card disappears.
“Call again. Reorder a new card.”
Three to five business days later, it arrives in the mail.
Once in possession of a new card with a new number, I went right back to my old ways of thinking. I couldn’t pay attention to the signs and signals. I ignored the subtleties and slipped back into where I was comfortable.
One Saturday afternoon at my family’s home, we prepared for a BBQ. Friends were slated to arrive and join us. I had just returned from a money spending stint at the convenience store and had entered the home with Shelby. I scraped off the silver flakes on a scratch-off and no sooner did I notice a ten dollar win, the friends arrived.
My dog, being driven by nothing more than pure instinct, decided to greet them at the end of the driveway.
She bolted out the door and I raced after her. Shelby runs like a cheetah and there was no possible way I was able to contain the situation. She met them at the end of the driveway and from around the corner a car was speeding toward us.
Shelby decided to try and stop the car. It was her duty to keep us all safe and apparently this four door sedan was the enemy meant to do us all harm.
My best friend lurched forward and plowed her head into the side of the vehicle just above the headlight. Like a charging bull into a red matador cape. She was hit so hard and fast she flipped into the air, landed on her back, and then trotted to the house as though nothing happened. In fact, the damage to the car was more than the damage to my dog. The driver and I exchanged information and went our separate ways.
Shelby stayed on the dining room floor panting and wondering what all the attention was for and all I could do was sit at her side. She was acting normal and seemed to be free of any wounds.
Later that evening, I get a call from the owner of the car she hit, “I’m willing to pay for any vet appointments, surgery or medicine your dog may need, but you’ll need to pay for the damages to my car.”
Luckily for the owner of the vehicle, my dog was fine. But the cost to his car, out of pocket, was steep. All the arrangements were made, his car was eventually fixed, and life moved on.
But that night, my subconscious returned me to the refuge. Of all the places in the dream world I could have journeyed to, I was whisked away back to him. Joe had something to say.
Standing at the threshold of the church-like building in the middle of the woods, the snow began to fall. Joseph meandered towards me from the center of the room with his hands stuffed deep in the pockets of his pants and his eyes half closed. The old man looked me over, cocked his head to the side, waggled a finger in my direction and stopped at the open door.
“Of all the people I’ve encountered over the years, Jeremy, you’re the toughest one to work with.”
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