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Sin. Greed is the sin of valuing anything over love. In my life there are two episodes where greed got the better of me. Both happened in Seattle, in my period of drunkenness leading up to quitting drinking in 2016. Both involved interactions with people in the dance community. They were mistakes I needed to make.

Prepper. One was with an acquaintance who was something of a prepper, a survivalist. I listened to his prepper ranting and let myself get all worked up, so worked up that I took his recommendations for stocks to buy, and diverted a good chunk of my savings into two rock-solid, can't-miss, prepper-approved stocks. By the time I came to my senses and sold those dogs I had lost about $18k.

MLM. The other was a much bigger deal, a descent into the madness of greed. I was exposed to one of greed's scariest and most grotesque manifestations, multilevel marketing. At a dance, I overheard a dancer talking to a group of other dancers about a business he was trying to get off the ground. If only he had about $25k to work with, he'd make this struggling business take off, and it would be huge. My alcohol-addled brain was bedazzled: here is an opportunity to get in on something big as an angel investor, and be set for life as part owner of a successful new enterprise. I said I might be able to help, and we set up a meeting. I met with him at his house, and he explained his idea to me. I barely listened. I never stopped to examine his idea rationally to see if I thought the proposed business made sense. It didn't; it ignored basic marketing, e.g. why does somebody buy this widget instead of that one. I didn't do my due diligence. I was completely gung-ho, eager to get rich, blinded by greed. So I invested in his scheme, even talking him up from $25k to $45k. He had a contract drawn up, which I signed with him and his wife. She had the money; she was in charge. He was just her tool. One of the things I heard her say, a ritualistic question she would ask as she came in to join us in a meeting was "Am I rich yet?" The two of them were also involved in an MLM scheme involving expensive equipment. I went as his guest to one of their MLM meetings, where people got up and extolled the wonders of this equipment and how you could easily build a profitable downline. The claims were amazing, incredible; this equipment could do so much. The meeting felt creepy. I did some research online and easily saw through the scam, saving myself from going down that rabbit hole. This soured things between us enormously. It was as if I had betrayed them on some deep level. They looked at me so reproachfully. No matter; I was still gonna be rich. So yeah, I lost the $45k and they skipped the country. I feel I got off lucky, though. I didn't let myself get sucked into MLM, an ugly artifact of the miserably greedy world he and his wife were living in.

Everything is a gift. Grasping that the whole world and everything in it including me is a gift I've been given was the first bit of bit of conscious wisdom that ever came to me directly. I was struck by it one night in Asheville. I didn't make any of this. My life and everything in it was given to me. As I grew older I was able to get back to that insight every now and then and it always makes me feel grateful. From that perspective the idea of a self made man is ludicrous. No human ever really made anything. It was all here already. All we humans can do is rearrange pieces of what we've been given to make our gift more useful or otherwise profitable. That's what we're here to do: create by finding clever ways to use what we've been given. The better we do that the more we mess stuff up, the more we disrupt nature. That's our niche: we're the part of nature that disrupts the rest of nature to create new possibilities, like fine art and gene splicing. All our advances destroy something because creative doesn't work without destructive. Greed is a peculiarly absurd sin. How can I be greedy when I've been given everything?