Saturday, May 18, 2013

I've Already Won the Lottery

As you may have heard if you've bought a cup of gas station coffee or worked in an office with other people in the last week, Powerball, the massive multi-state lottery, is sporting a jackpot somewhere north of $600 million.

I buy lottery tickets not-infrequently, and usually under one of two conditions. Either I'm feeling pretty great about my life ("My luck is relentlessly awesome lately -- I should play the lottery!") or I'm incredibly depressed ("Everything is shit, and I need this cheap fantasy, even though there's not a chance in hell I'll win!").

I don't want to be the girl who has to come into the office on Monday
after everyone else has quit and bought a yacht.

It's a common fantasy. Life will hand you not just a giant do-over, but insane riches and everything will be different. Everything will be better.

But here's the thing: what would it actually change? 

I mean in real, concrete day-to-day ways?

Sure, you'll pay off your debt, you'll buy a house, maybe buy your kids or your mom a house too. You'll get a new car. Or you'll get an old car and finally have the time and the money to restore it. You'll tell your boss to go to hell, or maybe you won't but you'll go in to work significantly smugger every day, because you won't need this job and can walk at any time.

Let's grant all of that. But I'm talking about now, this moment. How would it be different if you won the lottery?

We experience life as moments, not grand movements. So in this moment, I'm sitting in my living room in my pajamas, writing this blog. The Songwriter is asleep and the cats are being lazy. I'm drinking coffee and wondering what I'll have for lunch.

If I had $6 million or $600 million dollars, would this moment be any different?

  • I'd still get up early-ish on Saturdays because I like the morning sun and stillness.
  • I'd still be in my living room, because I love where I live. Ditto my pajamas.
  • I'd still write, because, duh, that's what I want to do with my life. 
  • I'd still enjoy the quiet contentment of my husband and cats sleeping.
  • I'd still make coffee, because having good fresh coffee without having to put on a bra and shoes is frankly the definition of luxury.
  • And given what a pain it is to get to Beverly Hills or Malibu or Paris, my lunch options wouldn't change if I had all the money in the world.

Okay, so maybe this would be my post-lottery living room.
But everything else, totally the same.

All this adds up to the understanding that I am as happy and content in this moment as it is possible to be. If a lottery windfall afforded me limitless choices, this is what I would choose.

And when I think abut it, most of my life is like that. I would still get my hair done at Stag. I would still drink in the upstairs bar at The Satellite. I would still go see Prima Donna play The Redwood. I would still walk to Aroma and get coffee and sit on their patio and write.

Sure, I would quit my day job. But I'd still be a working writer, and money wouldn't buy me success. And I would travel more, though missing my kitties and my general home-body-ness would naturally limit that.

But the vast majority of the moments that make up my life are already what I want them to be. And recognizing and remembering that fact doubles and deepens my happiness.

From that perspective, I'm pretty sure I've already won.

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