Sunday, August 3, 2014

Glory Days

I hate when people say they wish they could wake up and be rich. I wanna be rich! All my problems would be solved! I'd be so happy! It would be Heaven! To me, wealth is exactly like Heaven. People think they want it but if they actually stopped and thought about all it would entail, they wouldn’t want it anymore.

This weekend we painted the living room. It was a long, hard job and it turned the household upside down. We chose a flint blue and went to work. We taped and plastered and sanded and painted. We decided we didn’t want to wall-mount the TV anymore, so we purchased an entertainment stand and spent four hours on assembly. After the second coat went on and Springsteen pined for those long ago Glory Days from the I-Pod playlist, we decided the floor needed to be cleaned and the light switch covers needed to be updated. It was the job that went on and on and on. Price tag: $500.00.

If I was rich, the price tag wouldn’t be a problem and I could’ve hired two guys in Wrangler Jeans to do the dirty work while I played golf or lay by the pool. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Sounds kind of like--I don’t know--Heaven. But what kind of life is that really? Who cares about rounds of golf or lying by the pool? That’s not genuine happiness. It's not reality. Life is lived in the details and the sweat. Don’t you wanna leave something tangible on this planet? Of course you do. The last part of the living room job was me touching up the dinged bookcase with wood marker. Fake wood marker is real life. We earned that new room, one excruciating hour after the next.

Last night, when the living room was finished, we sat on the couch and soaked it in. It was my happiest moment this whole summer. I know every bump and angle and rough spot on those painted walls. We rebirthed that room and that’s how come we can enjoy it now. It's our baby. And because it cost us so much money and bruised knees and badly-calloused fingers, I will love it that much more. The pain is the love. There could be nothing like that when you’re rich, and life’s little problems aren’t problems, could there?

I’m not advocating poverty and I’m not an idiot. People need money in this society, I get that. But money isn’t the key to happiness. You think--oh, I don’t know--the Kardashians are happy because they have millions and can travel the world and wear the best clothes and jewelry and drive the best cars? Pop culture glorification aside, the Kardashians are the ten suckiest people on the planet. I argue they’d be happier/better/kinder if it wasn’t for the money and this phony dose of fame. Having lots of money doesn’t matter in the long run, does it? When you’re rich, the whole world’s a dollar store in a strip mall. How exciting!

Time is the most important thing in life, nothing matters more. It’s the time I want to hold on to and take care of. You can’t get time back when it’s gone. If Bill Gates offered me a hundred-billion-zillion dollars for one day of my life, I'd say no dice, sure I would. It's time, you fools, time!

The best part of our new living room is the time we spent together building it: sweating and thirsty and covered in paint. That’s what matters. That’s why that little room is my new favorite place in the world. Ask anyone who’s been hurt or widowed or whatever. Ask them what’s important. Bet you ten bucks they won’t say money. Betcha ten more they'd hand over their life savings for one more day with that lost loved one.

The other day a lifelong friend texted me and we chatted about being kids way back when. He wrote, "the good old days." I told him those days were good, no doubt, but these days right now are "the good old days," the best days, the glory days.

Brian Huba

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