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Words: Shaun Clarke

Illustration: Samara Hawthorne

“Wha’cha’ gotta-ask-ya-sen-iz, a-ya-innit-f’ the-love, or f’ the money?” he’d asked, when we spoke casually about low paid jobs. That was yesterday. I didn’t see it coming, like a sly sucker-punch, an uppercut that should’ve knocked me clean out.

“Do I do it for the money, or for the love?” That’s what he said, alright. No mistaking.

My cousin Paul Patterson – a cemented lad who snarled and slurred, a tiger that

would never change his spots, with a pint glued to his hand, always came out with

stuff like that. He usually misappropriated whatever he said, the joker he was. Always sounded like he didn’t know what he was talking about, when he did – he really did… Got me thinking!

04-fiction-sideThat night it returned in a dream. And now it’s back in reality – a big question, a life changing, rearranging, philosophical, diabolical question that’s leads to other questions like, does my self-importance equal sacrifice – of my social time, my lover, family and friends?

What exactly was he trying to say anyway? I called him up and offered him a drink.

We met at the Newlands – our local, played some pool. I itched to bring it up as soon as the opportunity came, and did.

He grinned insanely. “Making money is always a gamble. Under pressure? Worse cos’ things get hectic. People are rocking it for the wrong reasons, Nar-mean..?”

I was getting the gist.

“The product can’t be great,” he said. “When you put love into things everything is better – work actually feels good, customer and the trader.”

My cousin didn’t look smart or hang out in smart places, but he was.

If the creativity gods choose me, don’t I have a duty to find time to deliver? Then promote my inventions through mainstream languages and mediums by every means. That’s how great ideas can change the world for the better, I believe. But…

A big, broad, heavy BUT…

If for the love, I’ll be rewarded in heaven, praised for my nobility. Legendary – perhaps know true love…

If for the money, I’ll be loved and respected for the money. Legendary – probably buy love.

My cousin, a big guy, was like a little bird I heard whispering words in my ear. This bird had it all worked out for me.

I’ve thought about it since then, months on, over and over. Another trusted friend added, “Have a family? Be responsible first. Get the 9-5… the car… feed the kids, and aim to buy that diamond for the wife one day, but never give up your dreams… Better still, try and combine your dreams with your love and natural life.”

Is that even possible? He did say TRY. I had a decision to make, for me. Gave myself just a few words to do it in.

It’s like one train has gone and the other don’t come on time. Lost faith in the money making strategy. In the end, depending on my circumstances, I do it for the love, for now, working with life’s imperfections. I’ll do something else for the money, when I have to.

If I could, like my cousin said, I’d do what I enjoyed, even for less pay. Like for all of us, getting by is the most important thing.

For love or money… Think I’m gonna try and write the song, not that anyone will ever hear it.


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