When my husband and I were freshly married and bursting with both naïveté and unpaid bills, we purchased lottery tickets whenever the pot got huge. In those promising days between tickets purchased and winning numbers announced, we would fantasize about our transition to Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous from our current lifestyle of the poor & anonymous.
It was an escapist activity, for sure, as we pondered a life greater than the one we were living in our small apartment. Our grand plan included helping our friends and family members, supporting local schools and non-profits, and eschewing any Buddhist principles by moving to a fat mansion in a prime zip code.
If I recall correctly – some 15 years later – I didn’t give any airtime whatsoever to what I would actually do with my time. I suppose I’m better off not remembering that part since it was likely something as meaningless as overseeing the staffers hired to sort my belt buckles.
This very subject came up recently, though, as my husband and I reminisced about the early days of our marriage while discussing a news story about a lottery winner. We couldn’t remember exactly when we had stopped buying tickets, but I’m guessing it was sometime shortly after a friend spouted off that the lottery is simply a tax on people who can’t do math. As a gal with bleached blonde hair living during the Barbie “Math is hard” era, I had no choice but to distance myself.
Even though we no longer purchase tickets, we discovered that it’s just as gratifying to play the “How would our life change” game without actually having a ticket in hand. And heck, who knows, the brainstorming exercise could come in handy should there ever be an immaculate conception of a winning ticket borne unto us.
Our answer to the multi-million dollar question was surprisingly validating. With fifteen more years of wisdom and time spent connecting with the people around us, we now realize that we wouldn’t trade our community for anything. If we were ever to win the Big One, the posh zip codes would just have to posh on without us.
Now, lest it look like I’m channeling Buddha himself, I must add the disclaimer that we would indeed leave our house, or at least remodel it beyond recognition. But we wouldn’t dream of putting distance between ourselves and the people we care about. On second thought, we’d probably ask them to find us just a minute or two up the hill. Sure, these earthly desires won’t get us to nirvana, but at least we’d end up with a nice view of the valley.
Then there’s the pesky little question of my 10-year old minivan, which I refer to not so lovingly as the stage coach. Its rickety creaks and faint smell of dancers’ feet, which have at least one smell molecule in common with a stable, make us feel like homesteaders each time we head out to school or the dance studio. Suffice it to say that this covered wagon would be gone faster than it could gallop from zero to 20.
We had fun discussing the upgrades that we would make to our home and car, because the conversation felt far more healthy than desperate this time around. The tone felt light, I suppose, because we seemed to be acknowledging that if our life never got any grander than how we live right now, that we are still damn lucky to have this as our lot.
The other interesting realization was that, rather than discussing the details of the way our lives would change materially, we focused more on how we would spend our time. As we sat there in our living room, I couldn’t think of a single change I’d waste my time saying out loud. Sure, I could have listed ten acts of domestic drudgery that need doing but aren’t exactly inspiring, but really. When I survey the whole landscape of my life, I wouldn’t change a thing.
No matter what amount of cash came our way, it dawned on me that I would be most concerned with waking up with a purpose. I want to be informed enough to test my convictions; I want to be driven to work hard on behalf of our city’s children; I want to find internal and external reasons to be a small source of light and optimism to the people around me. And, for balance, I want to leave just enough time to sort my own belt buckles.
Causes Shana Moore Supports