I suppose I could open a car wash.

I went for a run and found myself thinking about winning the lottery. Not that I bought a ticket: even with the jackpot reaching record amounts, it seemed like a rather futile act.

When I think about the odds of winning the lottery, I can’t help but think about the adage that one has a better chance of being hit by lightning than winning the jackpot. People still buy tickets- convinced that out of the millions of participants that they are special enough to be The One, but everybody assumes that the lightning will strike Someone Else. Funny thing about that.

At any rate, I was playing a pleasant game of “what if” as I ran. What if I won? What would I do with the money? It wouldn’t be eight hundred million- between the lump sum payout and taxes it would probably only be a “mere” two hundred million, which is still an obnoxiously, abstractly large number. It would be enough money so that the excuse “I can’t afford that” would never again be valid. Which makes me wonder how much of life is designed to exist beneath the gravity of financial uncertainty? I can’t help but think that it colors every decision that I make in some small way- and I consider my means to be more than adequate. The assumption that my wants will always exceed my means is a factor that forces me to make decisions and prioritize what is really important to me. If I didn’t have a de facto financial limit, would I even stop to consider these things?

And what would other people’s assumptions become of me if I suddenly came into two hundred million dollars of windfall? Would there be a sense that I as the winner should be responsible for sharing it with them? After all, it’s not like I earned it, right? What would make me so special? Nothing but dumb luck. So why would anyone else be entitled to it? Because as a winner I would be a “Have” on a scale that relegates nearly everybody that I know into the category of “Have Not”?

Assuming that I did want to share the wealth, how would I decide who was worthy? I’m not in any better of a position to judge than Lady Luck. And money carries a certain amount of power- if I did pour money into something that I believed in- say, a charity, how would I know if the money was actually going towards the cause and not into someone’s pocket? And if I wanted to do good, how would I choose to make a difference that would make the most good? Would it be better to spread the wealth widely or stack it deeply on one or two issues? And what did I even believe in two hundred million dollars worth?

I guess that it’s good that I’m not in any danger of winning a jackpot anytime soon, but the questions themselves are still pertinent: what causes do I believe in enough to put my money behind them? Who do I want to share my wealth with? Am I surrounding myself with worthy people? 

Because I like to believe that I might be able to earn some wealth in the course of my life and I’d like to know what to do with it if I should ever have it.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 10, 2016.

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