A couple of days ago my coworkers were having that old chestnut conversation at lunch around the question “What would you do if you won the lottery?”. The invariable answers that follow these questions seem to be of the same strains, involving leviathan real estate acquisitions, leer jet wanderlust, Wall Street wizardry, and maintaining a level of sun-soaked alcoholism on tropical beaches.
These conversations often echo the theme of indulgence, of socially sanctioned excess that is heralded by the lottery list wishmakers. Money or wealth or income or whatever we want to call it is the one type of energy that seems to be exempt from crossing into the realm of a reasonable limit. “You can never have too much money” is often stated with a twinkly eye followed by its impending wink.
Why is it we glorify wealth, applauding the notion of having an amount of money tantamount to reaching the copious levels of Scrooge McDuck’s rolling hills of doubloons? Simply because it signifies a cornucopia of means, an endless wellspring of security. It is the score of mattresses and featherbeds to insulate us from ever having to feel the pesky poke of the pea.
At some point we bought into the fairy tale of wealth being equivalent to happily ever after. It’s as if we sincerely believe we can inoculate ourselves from the most devastating life events if we have a level of financial means that scales beyond what we would need to meet our every possibly desire. Yet we watch the king’s horses and men standing around Humpty Dumpty with platinum cards and congressional connections extended while the doctor is apologizing as there is nothing more they can do for that egg. Their money is no good here.
The next time we find ourselves slapping a 50 dollar bill on the counter of the convenience store and asking for lottery tickets and no change, it’s a great opportunity to ask ourselves what we are afraid of in our current living situation? What is so compelling about “living the good life” that implies our circumstance is not so good? Simply put, if we wish upon a fat stack of cash to counter our fear of having to grind through daily living, we will be surprised to find that life’s hardships cannot be bribed. We will simply carry those fears that drive us to attempt to precognize the most fortunate set of six numbers on a slip of paper into our newly reached status of “well off”. Our acquisition will only serve to magnify our fears to match the level of wealth we have attained.