Recently I got a paying gig with Ian’s tractor that netted me two hundred bucks after I replaced the diesel I burned. I always say I’m going to save up for siding, which is the last big thing the Lair needs, but whenever I get a cash gig I always end up converting it to commodities as fast as ever I can.
It’s funny how your viewpoint can change, given time and unforeseen occurrence. Isn’t it weird? Once I had a house in Socal, a shiny car, a swimming pool, a job in a big building. I wasn’t rich by any means but I was solidly middle class. People in my tiny sub-category of the automotive industry knew my name and respected it. I thought I was pretty well set.
Then it all fell apart. After a few years of scrabbling for work I couldn’t beg or buy a job. Mutual funds tanked and I lost my retirement savings. At one point I wept over a moldy half-loaf of bread because that was all there was to eat, I had saved it too long, and now the mold got it so there was nothing. After there was no wife to feed me I always ate in restaurants or from packages; I literally didn’t know how to cook rice. I didn’t seem to know anything that was of any value to me at all.
Now, years later, wealth is not green stuff in my wallet. From day to day money is of no use because there’s no place to spend it. But a surplus of food and fuel and the things I need to get through each day: That’s wealth.
And I’m gradually becoming “that guy;” that guy I looked up to when I was young. I can do stuff, people come to me for help and answers about things that actually mean something. I can fix a truck, build a cabin, run a backhoe, care for livestock, shoot at something that isn’t a paper target with a fair expectation of hitting it.
Today I took that two hundred bucks and converted it to food and fuel. I’m broke again, but when the money was in my pocket I didn’t have anything that I valued. This afternoon I looked at my bulging pantry and just sort of basked in my wealth. I’ve got baking supplies and propane enough to last till winter, and now I’ll start saving up what I need to get through winter. The cabin insulation is improved and I’ve got everything I need for earthbag skirting, so even without the siding the cabin will be better set than in the past two winters, which I got through just fine.
Material wealth isn’t measured in money, money is just a way to keep score. I’ve still got issues and always will. I need to do something about the cataracts that are slowly taking my vision. I’ve had a few health issues this year, nothing serious but enough to remind me I’m not young. Someday I won’t be able to support myself, and on the level I’m playing the retirement plan is called death.
But you know what? Right now I’m cool with that. I can honestly say that there has never been a time in my life when I have felt more at peace with the world and myself. I have no debt. Office politics, once so important, has become an irrelevant and sadly absurd concept on those rare moments when I think about it at all. No HOA gets any vote on the color I paint my door. I know every neighbor for miles around, and some of them I love, and I can get along with the ones I don’t. My yard contains dogs who love me, chickens who don’t, and a pistol target I welded myself.
For the first time in my entire long life, I’m a happy man. And if I were to die before the end of the year, well, it’s been a damned good year.