This is a story about love and money.
One day, a man sitting in his car looked out of his windshield and saw for the first time the woman he would marry. She was picking up trash in a parking lot, walking along the sidewalk with a blue plastic bucket. She wore a frayed white baseball cap, blue jean shorts, a tool apron and a stained t-shirt. She weighed 98 lbs, underweight but not frail.
He didn't know this, but she was a mom struggling to pay the bills for her then nine year old daughter. She was also blissfully happy to pick up trash. Every day when the sun warmed the cold dark morning, spreading gold through the trees, she would open up the little shop below the office, collect her bucket and proceed to take a quiet solitary walk under blooming dogwood trees.
While he sat behind the wheel of his aging blue Mustang, the man heard a voice in his head that said "there goes your wife." On hearing this very audible message, he shook his head. Thinking that was an odd event, he went on with his life for several weeks and forgot about the woman and the voice.
Meanwhile, the woman went on with her life just the same as it was for the last several months. She was enjoying being light and became used to little pangs of hunger that amplified the taste of everything she ate. Soon, a friend would suggest that she go downtown for food stamps and then things wouldn't be so hard. Soon, she would go back to college and finish her degree. Soon she would be in love, the kind of love that squashes every ambition a person could have unless it is to be rolled up together for days on end. Then, there would be a baby, a house, a totally new and beautiful life.
But at that moment, the woman and the man were not conscious of any of that. They were hungry, poor, and seeking...
Seeking meaning and not people. Both burned by divorce, they viewed relationships as complicating destructive forces. Even after two years of single life, they worked daily to remember the essence of who they were as individuals.
But inevitably, these two people wound up sharing phone calls, letters, and meals. They ate simple meals on cardboard boxes with tea lights set inside aluminum foil.
And let me just say that for both of them, these experiences were the richest, most incredibly beautiful times. They had nothing of value on the outside, but when all material wealth had been stripped away, the inner light of intelligent, articulate and philosophical conversations shone through. It was magic. And no amount of money could have bought such an experience. It was a time when the woman started to experience a spiritual awakening that opened the door to living a truly satisfying and expressive life.
To have less and to struggle is normally something that people try to avoid. In truth, the woman and the man continually seek to maintain the blessings that they now share. And when they see what they could reach for, they reach. But there is nothing wrong with not having things. In the absence of all the stuff and things we could have, or the dreams we never achieved, there exists something intangible and wholesome and satisfying. Today I'm going to remember this every time I find myself wishing for something else.