On Winning the Lottery
Well, there goes not just one but two insanely big jackpots—the two coveted pot o’ golds—the very Mega Millions and the motherload of a Powerball. That’s two very, very, very rich people. Somewhere, out there. If I asked if you could imagine what that would be like, then I would be insulting your intelligence and imagination at this point in the game. In fact, if those jackpots were still out there, most of us would still be dreaming of buying the winning ticket right up until the drawings when those fateful ping-pong balls of destiny alchemically float to the top of the magic lottery machine. Most of us would still be thinking of what we could do with all that money. I mean, can you imagine?! And it doesn’t really take any kind of science to reveal that money gets IT done, especially in our current economic system. To think about not having to worry about bills and work and life—why, you could have whatever you could dream of having and do whatever you could dream of doing; forget about your needs and the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy at this point. (You’ve got money and lots and lots of it.) But at what point would those wants become needs in a very apathetic 1st world society? At what point will the line between needs and wants blur?
Whatever the details of your lottery winning fantasy are–and here lately, there seems to be no short supply of people dreaming of what they’d do–whether you dream of living the extravagant life or of living a philanthropic life where fulfillment would come from giving back, I’ve got news for you: It’s over, so don’t waste anymore time thinking about it. The jackpots are gone (for now), and chances are that you didn’t win. Well, maybe a few dollars came your way for a couple of numbers that you matched, but still, you’ve got to go back to your job on Mondays, say “it’s hump day!” on Wednesday, rejoice at TGIF, Oh, and your current circumstances are still very much a reality. However, you still have a choice to make, and you can still win a lottery.
With ticket in hand (the back of which is probably already filled out with your information and signed by you), you check the numbers and all the while envision them matching one by one, and that altogether they will win you a new and improved life, one number at a time. Joy floods your heart, and if you’re really good at being imaginative, you might laugh out loud, shed a tear, or even increase your heart rate a bit. But what really happens? Beginning with the first number, you quickly find that, one by one, they don’t match, and all the light seems to dim around you. I mean, in your perception it’s like somebody hit the dimmer switch or the stage curtain falls on you. Life gets very dark very quickly. It’s as if a split second before you actually focused on the winning numbers that you just knew that you didn’t win, anyway. Once again, you’ve experienced another hope flushed down the existential drain. You didn’t win the lottery. Or, did you?
“An overwhelming majority of lottery winners go broke within the first year of their winning.” It seems as if I first heard this statistic when I was a kid or teen and have since heard it every time someone tries to make themselves feel better about not winning. Whether this saying and statistic is even remotely true or not, what is true is that lottery winners have a very big task ahead of them, and I’m sure it’s not just about living the all good and easy life, either. Here recently, I heard this rough statistic quoted when a principal was addressing a high school student body regarding their future success and life goals (because so many teens are banking on their bank to come from someone, somehow, and/or somewhere magically, and I’m sure that they picked it up somewhere in our culture full of first world problems).
So, at this point after contemplating how much better your life would have been as an overnight billionaire, which is now no longer a possible outcome, you probably start to feel pretty sorry for yourself while you remain lost in a dream of what exactly you would have done with all of that dreamy life-elevating legal tender. In an effort to make yourself feel better, you turn to the rational mind and contemplate what you would have done with that multimillion-dollar financial burden that you’ve never had before and how your life would change in EVERY way. What exactly would you do with all that overnight wealth? Obviously, it wouldn’t be as easy as just depositing your measly little paycheck in your bank account. Seriously, how would someone who’s spent his life living paycheck to paycheck, more or less, along with being a long-standing member of the middle class, deal with a total life change such as that? How would you handle ALL of that? Who would you financially assist with that much money, and how many folks would you give to? How would you maintain your fortune while helping all of those people and/or buying whatever you wanted? And what about the many sinister and disconnected individuals who would come out of the wood works to get a piece of your pie at all costs? How many others would feel entitled to a percentage? Would you sooner or later become a part of that lottery winning statistic mentioned earlier? Would life be even more worse off than before? Of course, we all can imagine great things happening for us and our innate abilities rising to the occasion in order to deal with such a burden, but you’ve got to consider both perspectives in order to achieve balance.
Honestly, I really can’t tell you what winning the lottery would look like for you, but as for me, I think there are many ways one can win the jackpot. Aside from all the talk about universal manifestation, the Secret, the Law of Attraction, or even how your God wants you to be blessed beyond measure, there are also many wise teachings and perspectives that suggest things happen for a reason, and sometimes, it’s not about getting whatever you want. In other words, hundred-dollar bills don’t have to gracefully rain down upon you to confirm that you won the lottery and you are headed for a new, better, more improved, and freer reality. What about when circumstances in life turn around in your favor as opposed to falling victim to a negative outcome? What about the moments in life when you go to pay for your groceries and realize that you dropped your bank card somewhere (as it is now no longer in your pocket), only to turn to the manager in passing to ask him of a lost card being turned in and he no sooner hears you than hands it back to you? Or, what about finding out that a surgery is going to grant you a new and healthier life, maybe even grant you a longer one, whereas before life’s outlook was grim and painful?
Recently, I caught up with a young pilot friend of mine who’s not only an ace in the air and in the classroom, but he’s also quite a financial planner. He’s a future one-percenter, and thankfully one who will help break the mold. But this high stake financial game was partially established by his parents who not only worked their lives away to make it close to the top, but even his grandparents climbed this mountain and achieved financial gain before his parents did. While I never underestimated his intellectual ability, I was shocked by what he had to tell me as he spoke to me about money, possessions, and how much he was learning as he day trades (all the while attending a prestigious aviation school). At the time, he was in the mode of reflecting on his family members’ lives, and in the process, he proceeded to ask me about what I wanted my own legacy to be (because that’s what he had been thinking about that day—definitely a cut above). He went on to tell me that he was beginning to see how money really meant nothing in life when considering everything else. Although that abundant cash flow could buy him whatever his desires wanted, all he had to do is procure the funds through hard work and investing, but the only thing his heart wanted was freedom, peace, and happiness. How he arrived at this existential conclusion is another story, but what’s important is that this came from a 19-year-old with his own plane and who seems to have pretty much anything (from a middle-class perspective) because of the hard work put forth by his elders. But the health and happiness of his family members have become more important to him than the material stuff they manifest with their earnings as the result of their time and sacrifices in life, many of which may not be fulfilling, and, in the end, may all be for nothing like much of our material desires.
What if you could win the lottery each and every day, but with this lottery, life would only change perpetually for the better?
In a time when we can pretty much have whatever we want whenever we want it, even if we have little to no credit, and we can use that money as quickly as we can get it (or even before so), our reality has become almost entirely focused on the material world of possession and purchasing power. Of course, winning the jackpot lottery can illicit happiness and an increased heart rate, but what happens when it’s gone and, even more so, can it buy the only real possession worth having? Will that money keep your heart beating and your body functioning? (Perhaps so, one day and for the right amount of money.) Seriously though, what if you could win the lottery each and every day, but with this lottery, life would only change for the better? What if winning this lottery gave you another day to live, breathe, laugh, love and experience this very temporary life for just one more day?
There’s this electronic song called “On My Way,” by the artists Axwell and Ingrosso, and in this song, the story goes that the singer is “On my way / I’m gonna hit the lotto / I’m gonna place my bet on every step I take / And if I hit rock bottom, / I’m gonna smile and dance with every step I take…” But how could someone feel so joyful with essentially nothing, and at rock bottom at that? How is that hitting “the lotto”?
I must confess: I did pout a bit when I didn’t win either of the jackpots over the last week, but not getting the winning numbers is like winning the lottery, too. Only this one lasts a lifetime, and it’s wealth is measured in gratefulness, love, and awareness of what it really means to be alive as a human becoming. Whatever your current belief system is or who or whatever you put your faith in, the fact remains for most of us; life’s mystery, that presence that makes itself known to you when you first open your eyes upon waking, or that feeling you get when you love someone, reveals another side to life, one in which goes beyond what we can touch and see.
“There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle, and the other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein once insightfully remarked: “There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle, and the other is as though everything is a miracle,” and the miraculous could be staring back at you in the mirror every morning. Maybe your winning ticket is someone you love or those whom you hold dearly in life, or maybe it’s some passion for a heartfelt hobby or career choice that you pour your heart and soul into; maybe your reality, your very being and awareness of who you are is your winning lottery ticket. One thing’s for sure, though: This lottery, this great raffle of happiness, begins with a detachment from the material world and an awareness of something much greater than ink-stained paper that delivers one’s material wants and desires. Instead of dreaming your life away in hopes of winning the lottery, begin living your life right away and grow from there. I’ll let you fill in the blank with your favorite cliché, but you can’t go wrong with living, laughing, and loving like today was it for you. As for me, I plan to “smile and dance with every step I take.”
Oh, and just in case I’m the only one who can relate to the above, it’s fine if you think I’m crazy. As long as you got something out of it. Maybe even a laugh. After all, maybe the lottery is just for me😉