On the way downtown to get an engagement ring for my girlfriend, I fell in love with the girl on the bus sitting across from me.
I tried to make eye contact with her and she saw, made a face, and turned away.
There’s a marketing myth created in the 1930s by a single family from South Africa that you are supposed to spend two months of your salary on a ring to give to a person you barely know who you now will spend the rest of your life with. Only Americans are stupid enough to believe them.
I had $2000 in my pocket, which was two months of my take home salary.
My friend, Peter, was with me. A girl helped us out behind the engagement ring counter. She had blonde hair and I fell in love with her. She was very nice to me because she was paid to be but I couldn’t tell the difference.
I couldn’t afford a nice diamond so I picked out a ring that had an emerald in the front. Emeralds are green like money. Rock money.
Peter said to me, “Something’s going to happen and it’s probably not good.” Peter was always quoting MC 900 Foot Jesus instead of the real Jesus.
MC 900 Foot Jesus was a rapper but it didn’t work out for him so he quit music and started working in a bookstore somewhere in Texas.
Jesus, on the other hand, was a Jewish revolutionary who said things like “let the dead bury the dead” and “he who is without sin, let him throw the first stone”.
Both of those quotes are ignored every day by millions of people on the World Wide Web (“triple dub”). Meanwhile, bookstores are dying.
I spent $500 on the ring. When I spent the money I was shaking. It was the most I had ever spent on anything.
My girlfriend and I had been going out for two years and she was expecting to be married.
Even my dad said, “when are you going to marry her”. My dad had gone mentally ill by that point and was living on health insurance for mental illness.
I tried to pretend that the ring was the “one ring to rule them all”. I felt that the ring gave me power. I felt that every girl I showed the ring to would now marry me.
Peter and I went to a bar and he convinced me not to ask the bartender to marry me. She poured drinks like she was an angel. She’ll never know how I felt about her.
I went back to the store. The girl was no longer there who had helped me earlier.
I had the ring turned into a necklace. I went back home and gave my girlfriend the necklace. I told her “I Love You” and that this was a prelude to marriage. I tried to convince her this was a good first step.
Then very bad things happened for the next two years. A relationship is 1/8 on the surface that everyone can see and 7/8 below the surface. Like an iceberg.
One of the first attempts at transatlantic luxury travel was the Titanic, which, coincidentally, hit an iceberg. They are dangerous.
Why did I say “I Love You”? Because I was afraid of confrontation, which is a huge weakness I’ve carried around. Because I was afraid to offend her. Because I was afraid to be lonely.
Because I was afraid of what other people would think of me. Because I secretly was in love with her best friend and didn’t want her best friend to hate me.
On and on. “I love you” usually has more bad reasons than good reasons to say it.
15 year olds say it to each other. And people say it to people who are about to die. And people who hate each other try to convince themselves they don’t so they say it.
Because of these inner fears, because of my inner weakness, my outer life suffered the consequences for two entire years. Everything you do, everything you say has consequences.
Even everything you think has consequences.
The outer world is nothing but a mirror of your inner world. Everything you see around you is painted by the eyes with the colors you mixed on your inner palette.
I can clean my inner world by constantly being honest, doing my best, and saying “thank you” as much as possible.
This is the key to a life of all magic.
I used to think I had absolute control over the future outcomes in my life. But all I have control over is how I treat my inner life today.
I don’t know anything about politics. Or the issue of the week. Or ebola. I only know to keep the inside clean.
Years after that, we were talking on the phone for the last time (as it turns out) ever. I asked her how she was doing now.
She had gotten a PhD and a law degree and I had been thrown out of graduate school and was currently living out of a garbage bag.
She said she met a guy and they were getting married. He fixed toys for a living.
I said, he must be good with his hands.
He is, she said, and she giggled.
We got off the phone. I took a suit out of my garbage bag and walked the 20 blocks to work. I tried to make eye contact with every girl on the street. None of them looked back.