I have nothing.
Everything I have is borrowed or stolen. None of it belongs to me. Even the most important things in my life – my guitar, my notebooks, they aren't mine, not really. I don't own anything. And even if I think the idea of ownership is bullshit, it's nice sometimes to hold something in your hand and say "mine."
I knew that more than anybody as a little kid, who collected rocks and paperclips and other odds and ends I found on the street or between couch cushions. Finders keepers. Coins were the best. They were cold in my hands and I liked to trace my fingers over the rough edges and the faces of important people. Dollars were useless to me, since somebody would always snatch those away from me, but coins I could keep.
I was an enterprising kid too, as I got a little older. I'd offer, "I'll do your math homework if you give me a dollar." Sure, this offer was met more times than not with, "Do your homework or I'll beat the crap out of you," but sometimes I made money.
I'd sacrifice a lot for that money too. Bigger kids would push me around, demanding I turn over my money, but I told them I didn't have any, even when I had five dollars tucked away inside my sneaker. I didn't care if they beat me up, as long as I had my money.
Now I have nothing.
I gave all that up. It's just green pieces of paper, right? That's what you told me. You said it wasn't real, that it meant nothing.
Maybe it was easy for me to let it go, since I had so little already. Or maybe that made it even harder, maybe I was unwilling to relinquish the little that I had. But I eventually bought into it, this idea that is all this buying is selling is just a game, and maybe I don't have to play.
I repeated your words to my brother one day. "Money doesn't mean anything, it's not real."
He looked at me and shook his head. "Money is the only thing that is real."
But I know that's not true and I know he doesn't believe it himself. What's real is the way his girlfriend smiles at him and his son's laughter. Those things are real.
But all this thinking has left me with nothing. Nothing tangible, at least. I have a lot, really. I have friendship, family, love, music. I have things money can't buy. Maybe that's enough. Maybe that's more than enough.