Saturday, March 31, 2012

On Remaining in the Same Economic Strata That I Was In Last Week

So. Apparently I’m not a millionaire.

Like most of Western Civilization, I threw a few bucks at the Mega-Millions lottery drawing for Friday night. Apparently somebody actually took the time to calculate how much money was wagered on that drawing and discovered that it was … um … a whole pile of money. A pile big enough that if you converted it all to hundred dollar bills and laid them all end to end, you would be very tired when you were done.

Also like most of Western Civilization, I ignored the whole discussion of the odds of actually winning this pile of money. Yes, I am aware that I have a greater chance of being hit by lightning, running a sub-three-minute mile, and being granted permission from my wife to date teenagers – all in the same day – than I do of winning that money.

But I really would rather not be struck by lightning. I have no interest in running an entire mile unless something with fangs is chasing me, and even then it would be tempting just to turn and get eaten as it would be a quicker and less painful death. And I had my fill of dating teenagers when I was one. Don’t get me wrong – I had a wonderful time with those women and I am still close friends with most of them, but one of the many joys of being happily married is never having to date ever again. So none of those things are really on my list of Desirable Outcomes.

Winning lots of money, though, that's right there.

Now, I grew up surrounded by people with a whole lot of money. I understand that at a certain point managing money becomes a full-time job in itself, that having money does not solve all your problems so much as change them into new and different problems, and that winning the lottery is just another way of dividing time into Before and After and you can’t go back again. I get that.

I also get that in practical terms I don’t really have to worry about those things.

Instead, it’s just a way to stretch your imagination. It is just fun to think of the things you could do with over half a billion dollars, and that, really, is why you play those games.

You don’t play to win – somebody has to win, and it’s not likely to be you. You don’t play to solve all your problems, because you’re still the same person when all is said and done and as one internet meme has so wisely said, “The only constant in all your bad experiences is you.”

You play to dream. You play because for a couple of bucks you get to spend an evening or two coming up with new and ever more inventive ways to spend that money. It’s cheaper than a movie.

So next time? Yeah, I’ll throw in my couple of bucks.

And if I hit it big despite all of this? Well, won’t that be a time.


Beatrice Desper said...

So, what would you have spent it on?

David said...


A house large enough to host family and friends, and a supply of travel tickets to bring them there and me to them if they can't come.

Good food.

People to maintain my property and manage my money, plus a number of accountants, lawyers, medical personnel and security people.

Perhaps an entire political party to forward the progress of my obviously correct and Kantian Imperative views.

A 501(c)3 foundation to spread wealth where I deem that it needs to be spread.

That's a good start.

Nathan said...

I came to the conclusion that I'd have spent most of my money hiding if I'd won. :)

Tom said...

You don't have to play to dream. I do like your list in response to Beatrice, though. I travel to see friends and family almost every year. Sometimes they travel to see me, too. And I have lots and lots of books.

You don't need to play to dream. You just can't win unless you do.