My name’s Al, but I like being called Marty. I hope that you are doing well. “Broke” was a subject I had to learn. I’m in my 60’s, but I’ve survived being “broke as a joke” my entire life.

I’ve lived honestly below poverty level just fine. My wants are few. All my possessions are not mine, by the way. I handed everything over to God when my fish that I loved died suddenly. Life has become more rewarding. Something breaks, I don’t fall apart. I used to. It’s “I was only babysitting the thing for God anyway” now. I can give away gifts that I know people will like. Things aren’t treasures, or trash. Odd, that behavior. My apartment is filled with things people threw out for some reason, things like expensive paintings, furniture or tools.

Is poverty easy? Yes, if I want it to be. I don’t miss what I give, the exact opposite! I recall the two-way goodness that came. It’s all in how you see things. Poverty doesn’t mean you have to glue onto feeling like a victim. If others have more, I rejoice at their blessings! The rich give me hope for our world. That the chance is even there! Many poor people became rich, too.

My great-grandfather came to America in 1915. He retrieved bananas that fell from ship’s conveyor belts, then sold them from a cart. He opened a store, then a theater. He became so prosperous, he was a city manager, well known. He started off with mostly the shirt on his back though. Other Italian immigrants in New York City had sat around waiting for something to happen, like being fed. He didn’t want any part of that misery. He went to Galveston, Texas, knowing there was work there. The 1900 storm had wiped out the island (America’s worst natural disaster to date, by the way.)

Broke is not a cruel joke if you don’t want it to be. Or, we can simply be a victim of poverty. I’d only ask that the system allow people to easily offer for sale what they’ve made with their own two hands. We’ve over-regulated an individual’s attempts at making a life for themselves. I’d like to see people get to take turns on Congress Street selling things they’ve made (except food). Uncle Sam and “businesses” are not going to become broke by doing so. Struggling broke people need some help, not just temporary “help” that only goes so far.

Life needs no possessions to create smiles and genuine happiness. I had to learn that. That new shirt isn’t what actually makes me happy, it only can provide some form of joy while selecting and buying it. Contented people know it’s all just “stuff'” anyway. Attics are filled with things people once thought they’d love.

Yes, giving away nice things sure does provide two-way happiness. “Happy” has more weight than gold. Think “happy” in all things. Just ask any soul resting in a hospital bed if possessions are very important to them.

Myself? I’m going to enjoy what blessings I have before I can’t, and donate before vacating the planet. Contentment goes a long way indeed. I save “Woe is me” for more important things. I’d never know what to do with riches anyway.

— Special to Meetinghouse

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