So, you didn’t win the Powerball jackpot. Or, maybe you did and you’re reading this now. In that case, I could use a few bucks. Not too much, but if you’re feeling extra generous then, by all means, dole out the greenbacks, you lucky fella… gal… person.
I, like millions, bought a ticket last night. Let me stress that I bought “a” ticket. I didn’t break the bank. I didn’t drop a twenty. I didn’t return a garbage bag of pop cans for the numbers. No, I bought a ticket. Two bucks and out the door! As the saying goes: you can’t win unless you play. I don’t usually play the lottery, to be honest. Or sure, every-now-and-then I’ll buy a ticket when the jackpot gets crazy. Why not? It’s a buck or two. But, unlike many, I realize that the lottery is a tax and I pay enough taxes, thank you very much. Soon, I’ll probably be paying more taxes. Thank you, Congress and Mr. President. I won’t, however, volunteer to pay taxes. But, a little two dollar fun won’t hurt now and then.
What kind of fun can you get with two bucks? Well, depending on which country you find yourself in, two bucks of fun can mean different things. For the sake of posterity, we’ll concentrate on lottery tickets.
It’s fun to imagine what you would do with $500 million. Throw in the possibility that you just might wake up the next day a millionaire and it’s even more fun. I, of course, imagine the toys. I also imagine the good I could do. As I get older, the good begins to grow and the toys shrink. It’s only natural, I think. Maybe. I don’t know.
This moment of imagining also reveals what kind of person you really are. How? Well, you can talk about all the things you’ll do with the money, but deep down inside you know what you’ll really do. If you’re running a list of enemies and imagine that it’s your time to take revenge, then you have a problem. Get therapy. If you immediately start thinking about the friends and family you’ll not help, get help! If your mind begins to wander on how you can rub the cash under that one person’s nose, then tear up the ticket and throw it away. If you are on drugs, then stop reading, call a friend, and get to rehab today. Forget the lottery. You’ll be dead in a year if you win.
I like to think that I’m a good person. I have charities, friends, family, churches, and small businesses in mind when I imagine the good I could do with the dough. I think about communities I could help and schools… schools that will change their name to the Gary W. Allison High School! Yeah, I think of a legacy. It’s my ego I constantly have to keep in check. That’s the type of person I am. Maybe that’s bad, maybe it’s not. It’s better than starting a training camp for ninja assassins. There was a time.
This morning, I checked the numbers, saw that I didn’t win, and threw away the ticket. I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t care. I don’t believe that the universe is against me, or that God hates me. It’s chance and sometimes, chance lands on you, but most times, it doesn’t. That is why it’s called chance. It’s a hard lesson that I learned over the years. It’s the lesson of hope. Hope is a dangerous thing. It’s more dangerous than most anything in this world. I don’t mean to sound cynical. I’m not a cynic. I promise. Not entirely anyway. Instead, I’m practical. I’m realistic. That, I believe, is the only way to look at life.
But, what about faith, Gary? What about it? I don’t know. What is faith? In what do you have faith? In God? In man? In technology? In science? In time? I have a lot of questions. I have a lot of unanswered questions. I also have a lot of unsatisfactorily answered questions. All I know about is now and what happened before. That’s it. All else is wishing, hoping, pretending. So, a potential lottery win, although fun to imagine, is meaningless to me. It bears no weight upon my life. It neither lifts me up nor brings me down. The things that do have meaning to me are with me yesterday and today and hopefully tomorrow; my family, my friends, food in my belly, shelter over my head, blood running through my veins, air in my lungs. If that’s cynical, then I guess I am a cynic. I don’t think I am, though. I think I am just experiencing life as it is.
So, cheer up, money grubber! You’re alive today and hopefully, you’ll be alive tomorrow. Call up a friend, hug your child, kiss your spouse, and live loud. If you didn’t win, it doesn’t mean that you are a loser at life. No, there are more pressing things here and now that will determine that. Take care of business. TCB, baby! You’ll be better for it; better than you probably would have been than with $500 million. Although, it’s fun to imagine.