We Cannot Eat Money

I have nothing left. I lost my house, my car, my bank account is zero. Not knowing what I’m supposed to do I hunkered down in a box in a lost alley somewhere I don’t know. As I laid there thinking of all I had lost, a bright light had shown into my eyes. It was red, and burned like fire. Looking down the cold street the light was from a sign I had never seen before. I couldn’t understand what it said. I walked up to it on auto pilot not even thinking about what I was doing. I stood for a moment not knowing whether to go in or not. It could not be open this late? But the sign just came on. I pushed on the door, it was open. It was as if the shop had the power to draw me over the thresh hold. It seemed to be empty. I looked around for a while walking through the shop looking at all the little knick knacks and statues and incense burners, then meandered back to the front. I felt as though I was meant to be here but what could it be? I cannot afford anything in here. I was about to leave defeated when I heard a voice. “Going so soon?” the voice said. I turned to find an old man smiling at me. He reminded me of that smiley stereotypical Asian shop owner. He asked if there was anything he could do for me. I told him the truth, “I don’t really know, I was drawn here as if by magic.” He then asked me to do something for him, to tell him my story. So, I began. Starting from the beginning, of every misfortune , every hardship, every stroke of bad luck that has brought me here up until I entered his store. He said he wanted me to have something. Something that would give me great fortune if I took care of it. It was a plant, a jade plant or commonly a money tree plant. Why would a shop owner just GIVE me anything especially something so beautiful like this plant. He explained the myth of the money tree to me “it is believed to carry with it strong Chi. The myth of the Money Tree, in one account, originates as a poor man prayed for better fortune and found this plant whose fruits can weigh up to six pounds and seeds can be roasted or crushed into a paste like peanut butter. Selling the seeds then made the man wealthy. The man had stopped and the only words I herd that made any sense to my situation was money. This tree would bring me money!

 

 

I cared for it for days, weeks, months. I watered it every other day in the summer, and once a week in the winter. I kept it well drained. In the spring I pruned it. Pruning the plant helps to strengthen and encourage new growth of the main stem. Regular pruning not only helps the trunk to support the weight of the leaves, but also increase in its size, due to induced root growth. She blossomed better than I could have ever imagined. Fruit started growing. but still no money. When would the good fortune kick in that the old shop keep promised? I thought as I plucked a fruit from the tree opened up the pod revealing hardened seeds. These seeds smelled familiar. They smelled of peanuts. Starving, I quickly ripped open another fruit and threw all the seeds in my mouth. They were large, the size of a walnut in it shell. These strange seeds tasted just like peanuts. “This tree will keep me from starving until it brings in the money.” I thought to myself. What I should have know about this plant was that “the money tree’s fruit are oblong, woody pods. Once the pods ripen, the fruit drops, and the five lobes split apart to reveal tightly packed nuts about a 1/2-inch in diameter. The nuts can be eaten raw; they can be roasted or fried; or they can be ground into flower. Their raw taste is similar to peanuts; when roasted, they taste like chestnuts.” I chewed and chewed on the seeds. They began to taste like peanut butter.

 

I was no longer starving but the tree has still not brought me fortune. I even found it a nice pot with a good soil mix to keep it growing. But the taller it grew the more my hope got up for my fortune. After all this time my plant has grown. It has fruit and it is healthy. But I still have nothing. I have starved and starved. This plant was supposed to bring me fortune, but it has brought me nothing but despair, caused by the hope it brought. I don’t know how much longer I can go on.

This lasted longer than I could take. I had no choice but to give up. The beautiful tree has driven me to my limit. Now I must let it go.

 

Angry with the old shop keeper I left my plant with my makeshift home just behind the shopping stip. I tried to remember where this strange little shop was. I tried to take myself back to the state of mind I was when I first found the shop but I could not feel the magic anymore. Only anger and frustration that this little old man had pawned off responsibility of this dumb useless tree to me. I searched and searched and searched until finally I came across the strange crooked sign in letters I could not understand. The faint smell of incense wafting in the wind. But the door was locked. The windows boarded up. I found a loose board covering a shattered window. The shop was empty. Walls bare. Shelves empty and dusty and cobwebs stretched across the space as if the shop had been closed down for years. I turned to the counter thinking maybe the register had some money left in it. The register was empty. As I turned again to leave the shop I found a fortune cookie sitting on the counter and I felt the rush of magic in my gut again. I devoured the cookie and read the small crinkled paper “Only when the last tree has died will we realize we cannot eat money.” Eat money why would I eat money? I pondered this a bit as I reached into my pocket to pop another seed into my mouth. It was my last seed but I was starving. Eat the money! I was eating a resource! I could make these seeds into a type of butter. “Rich house wives love that hazelnut shit! They will devour this money tree butter! I will be stinkin’ rich!” Thanking the invisible shop keeper, I raced back to my “home” but what I saw was not my bed the way I left It but a pile of smushed debris strewn about and my tree and future fortune was no where to be seen.

 

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