Once upon a time, I dreamt of a money tree. I envisioned it, standing tall amongst the countless acres of land that would surround my 10-bedroom mansion. With never-ending cash for leaves and gold-plated branches, my money tree would know no seasons, remaining in bloom all year round to feed my wide-eyed greed. I’d watch it grow from one of my many balconies, sipping an aged Merlot from a glass worth more than my Dupioni silk gown while my inferior entourage would flock to my every need in return for a cut of the buck. In my fancy car I would break the speed limits with the sense of entitlement that I would inherit from my stacks of green paper, leaving behind a gigantic carbon footprint as I soar into the abyss without a chore or a job or a purpose in the world.

Money would be my purpose now, and it would keep me warm at night as I’d drift off and wonder, who ever said that money can’t buy happiness?

Once upon a time, I dreamt of a money tree. I watched it steal my values, poison my beliefs and challenge my authenticity. I felt it drag me down into a hole of greed and isolation as it mocked me with its fake promises and misleading sense of security. My money tree grew wild and heavy, crushing my kindness under its very weight and trapping me under it’s never-ending cash and gold-plated branches, screaming, “ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?”.

And then I woke up, picked the twigs from my hair, and I redefined wealth. I measured it not by the growth of my money tree, but by the happiness in my heart and the warmth in my soul and the good people in my circle. I thought myself the worthlessness of tangible wealth and the true wealth of self-worth. And I ranked myself the wealthiest girl in the world.

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