What does it take to be happy?
It would be nice to say something like "Love" or being satisfied with what you've got.
But I know better.
You can't begin to be happy unless you're provided for. Unless you're fed, got shelter and have your basic needs met, you won't even be close to being happy.
Now I know there are a lot of people here on this earth who don't even have those basic needs met.
It's a cruel world.
Then there are people who are so filthy rich they don't even know how much money they got.
That's a real shame, especially when there's more than enough to go around.
I guess it all comes down to money.
You can't really live without money.
That's the sad truth about the world we live can't even have your basic needs met unless you've got money-or else you're living off the government that has it's own the money's gotta run out sometime.
Like they say, "Money doesn't grow on trees".
I know that and most people gotta work for their money. Nothing wrong with that.
But I don't really see the point of working yourself to the bone for nothing when it doesn't pay out that much. Have you seen the economy lately?
I'd rather get my money elsewhere.
Now I don't do anything illegal like drugs, or anything dirty like that.
Of course I haven't exactly told the IRS where I get my money from. My bills are paid and I don't spend too much money on unnecessary junk. No ski jets or fishing boats for me.
Yep, I'd say I'm pretty happy where money's concerned.
I've got all I need and I have it all in my little safe. I just reach in, take what I need and that's it.
It gives me all the money I need whenever I need it so I don't have to go to the bank ATM or open a checking account.
I don't trust banks anyway, do you?
The US Government stopped basing their currency on gold a long time ago-now it's just backed by the faith of the people.
That's a scary thought...
But what was I saying?
Oh yeah, the safe.
The only thing the safe isn't good for is other tangible things like food, pretty much anything that spoils, it just doesn't taste right when it comes out of the safe. Somehow it's just so tasteless and I'm not sure it has any nutrition. That's why I don't eat from the safe. I got some clothing out of it but the style wasn't all that great, the colors were bland and the cut was all wrong.
No, money works best. Little simple pieces of paper with the proper writing and decoration on it that somehow makes it so damn valuable.
Who knew it would be worth so much?
The safe itself doesn't look like much and is pretty beaten up. I found it outside the alleyway of a pawnshop, discarded in the dumpster while I was roaming the streets looking for cans.
Yeah, I wasn't one of the fortunate ones who had jobs or anything. Just me, myself and I looking out for number one.
Until I found the safe.
I tried to sell it to other pawnshops and locksmiths but they wouldn't take it 'cause it didn't have a fancy computerized security lock and there were no numbers on the combination lock, just an old knob.
Oh man, I came so close to losing that safe though.
At night when I was camped out in the park near the aquifer ponds they later filled in, some guy came creeping up to my spot and sure enough tried to steal it from me. As I came upon him with my stick he dropped the safe. The little door popped open and all I had was in there, all fifteen dollars that I managed to panhandle downtown. The guy took it and ran but left the safe. I brought it back to camp and while I reached into the empty safe I wished I had my money back.
All of a sudden when I pulled out my hand, all fifteen dollars was there, in crisp dollar bills. I couldn't believe my eyes and I don't know how many times I counted the small bundle but I even checked the serial numbers and they all seemed legit, like they had just come from a bank.
I closed the safe door, and decided it was some sort of trippy miracle. I went back to sleep, carefully guarding my stuff in case that guy came back.
When I woke up the money was still there.
Just in case you think the safe is some magic genie granting all your wishes-it doesn't do that. I still get sick, in fact I was in bed with a bad flu for three weeks a few months ago. You can't just wish for eternal youth or to be immortal. You got to wish for something real. It also doesn't give you stuff that can't fit through the door of the safe. It's about a foot all the way around, so not much will come out of it. It's not like I could pull a car out and take it for a drive.
But it did give me a lot of useful things.
Like I said, I even tried to get a sandwich out of it.
"All right," I said, "If you can give me money, how about a sandwich?"
Worst tasting sandwich I ever ate that didn't come out of the garbage or was thrown on the ground.
I thought I had lost my tastebuds for good when I bit into it.
You know when you have a dream about eating food? Goodness knows I've had plenty of those. You think how good it's going to taste but when you finally bite into it, there's nothing there. That or you're gnawing a bite out of your blanket and that doesn't taste too good either.
I finished it just to see what would happen but it wasn't an hour later and I was still hungry. I guess it didn't fill me up much.
I decided to test out the safe and see how many things I could get out of it.
I got a pair of shoes but they wore out pretty quickly.
I pulled out some blankets but they couldn't keep me warm.
The clothes I got out of the safe didn't fit me well or look good and when it was cold they also didn't warm me.
Well, maybe those things weren't so useful after all.
But neither is money for that matter.
It's just worthless bits of paper-until you start circulating them around.
Think of it, you keep a whole bundle of money stashed away somewhere, maybe under your mattress or in a safe like mine. It just sits there not doing anything or helping anybody. Like those slush funds the banks have, except it doesn't pay any interest-not with this economy, as I said before.
Money itself is pretty damn worthless.
But money can buy a lot or worthy things like food, clothing and shelter.
In fact, that's how I got my first place, with the money I used from the safe.
Now this was before the days of government issued ID cards and bank accounts needed just to look at an apartment.
I got a little studio flat downtown and the landlord didn't bat an eye when I gave him all the cash.
He just nodded and said, "No refunds on your deposit", and left me to my new place.
I soon fit my newly acquired stuff very nicely into my little bachelor pad.
I had it made all right.
But I wasn't stupid.
Eventually people were going to ask where I got the money and I couldn't always say, "It was a lucky gamble", or "I know a guy...".
The IRS wouldn't be the only ones asking questions, soon it would be the guys holding guns and barking dogs at my door.
No, I had to play it safe, as in live very quietly off the grid and don't spend too much in one place.
This was very hard for a guy who never had much to pinch between his two fingers in all his life. But living on the streets gives you a sort of perspective you don't get in the comfort of a cushy life with social security. I've seen some ugly things happen to people and I've also seen how things have a way of turning. People lose a lot very easily.
I was very careful not to let my greed get the better of me.
Oh but I tell 'ya, it was hard too.
So many temptations screaming at you from billboards, advertisements, newspapers, TV, radio and every possible place you can think of.
"BUY THIS! BUY THAT! YOU NEED THIS! YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT!"
And I almost believed it until I remembered how little I used to live on.
I'm not one of those fools who think it's my God given right to be rich.
I know better.
I wasn't blessed with my new fortune.
If anything it was a curse.
I had to be really careful not to let anyone know where I got the money from.
Even the landlord was suspicious and he started snooping around my place.
I found him looking at my safe once.
"Can I help you?" I asked him as I stood in my own doorway, looking at this creep with the gold chain around his neck, while thinking to myself, "What the heck he was doing in my studio living room slash bedroom?"
"Uh..." He began stupidly, "I wus' juss' lookin' ".
I nodded and waited for him to continue.
Finally he pointed his fat chubby finger at my safe and mumbled something about losing my valuables in a place like this.
I pretended to be friendly and go along with whatever he was saying.
See, I know how the safe works.
I kept a few of my worthless things like my Gold watch in there (the one I got from the safe).
But I knew I was the only one who could use my secret safe.
You didn't just reach in there and pull out a wad of cash.
You have to really concentrate and hold the image in your thoughts, along with a fervent wish that you're not losing your mind, as your hand closes on something that use to be empty air.
When you pull it out you also have to keep believing that what you see is really there and that it won't vanish like some smoke and mirror trick.
It's not for the faint of heart.
Imagine if you had pulled something really gruesome out of there-like someone's bleeding dead heart.
Just kidding! I wouldn't want to do that.
But just imagine if you did...
There was no way a stupid schmuck like the landlord would have the mental capacity to do a feat like that. Just the same though, I had to guard that safe night and day. If someone with the right kind of imagination were to use the safe, then it would be all over and I would be out on the streets again-
or worse, if anyone found out.
Oh yeah, and another thing-
Don't try to pull anything alive out of the safe.
Not that you would, of course.
But I uh... tried to do that once.
Silly old me, trying to be a magician and do some magic tricks.
I put my hand in the safe, waving my other in the air, and shouted, "Abaracadabra!".
Instead of pulling out a living bird, I pulled out something that looked like one of KFC's mutated chickens. No head, barely any wings and no legs. The feathers weren't quite right either and were all crumpled in my hands. There was no question the thing, whatever it was I was holding in my hand, was dead. I don't think it had ever been alive, Thank God.
But I had buried it under a tree and put a rock on top of it so nothing would get at it.
I never did that trick again.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, happiness.
Even though I could pull out wads of cash from my secret safe, and was relatively well-provided for, I wasn't that happy. I had to guard my safe and when I went out I was constantly paranoid that someone would get at it and figure out how to use it.
So, I decided to keep moving.
Like they say on the streets, don't sit in one place long enough to get crabs in your pants.
I moved from place to place, never trusting anyone. I kept to myself and didn't talk to the neighbors. I was used to being on my own.
I guess you really can't buy happiness after all.
Even if you're provided for, there's always something lacking, isn't there?
Sorry, I don't mean to wander about here.
I know there was a point I was trying to make...
So far so good, the safe is still working.
But like I said before, I know how easy it is to lose things.
That's why I'm writing all this down.
My memory isn't what it used to be and senile dementia seems to be coming on pretty quickly.
Life is short after all.
Call it a living testament if you will. It's all right down here in black and white.
I'm keeping this all in the safe just in case. If I should forget how to use the thing then everything will be gone.
I'll wait and see...
For now though, I'm just going to be happy with what I've got.
That's all I can do, right?