On my way to work I stopped by a gas station to fill the tank of my car. As I waited to pay the hefty sum for the gallons of fuel my car consumed, I noticed a few folk buying lottery tickets. The jackpot was $12 million. I paid for my gas and started pumping, but my mind was already mulling the thought of millions.
I recalled as children in elementary school, perhaps fifth grade, we were asked the question, “What would you do with a million dollars? How would you spend it?” It was one of those questions designed to reveal our way of thinking. What we would do with a million dollars would say a lot about the philanthropy in our hearts, our concern for the problems of the world, our concept of money and our knowledge of the cost of material things. At the time, most of the answers would reveal that the classroom had an overabundance of philanthropists and humanitarians who would give more than 50% to charity while helping find cures for the ill, shelter for the homeless, food for the hungry, clothing for the poor, a house and/or car for our families, a trip around the world, ah yes, some games and toys for ourselves, and money in a savings account. It’s what we were taught to do…to share our good fortune. But as we grew older, our life values and cost of living often changed so drastically that material gratification, egoism and greed took center stage. Philanthropy and humanitarianism became an afterthought.
“Well, how would you spend it?” said my Id, urging me deeper into my thoughts.
“I’m thinking,” I said.
“What’s there to think about? It’s simple. You work hard, you deserve nice things. Why this constant battle between what you have, what you need and what you think you want?” “Because money can do a lot, and I want to make it work for me,” I said with conviction.
“Spending it on what you want is making it work for you,” said Id.
“That’s too temporary,” I said. “Remember years ago, when we were much younger, we tried spending an imaginary million dollars on what we wanted. We redecorated with new furniture, electronics, gadgets, vacations, and wardrobe, and put money aside to give 5% to schools and 10% to charity.”
“Yeah, I remember,” reflected Id. He, too, delighted in the memory. “We put a price tag on each item of our fantasy cars, home and gadgets. We really indulged in our wants and desires.”
“We sure did,” I said as I took a short moment to bask in the memory of our imaginary indulgence. “But, that’s all it was, wants and desires,” I said, coming back to reality. “Wants and desires fade and change, and in time, lose their value. We become bored of them or obsessed by them. Our sense of entitlement muddies the waters between what we want and what we really need. I need something more lasting and meaningful that will add value to my existence.”
“You knocked the greed right out of me,” said Id, with a sigh.
“Money needs to reflect who I really am and what is important to me in life,” I continued. “My outer prosperity must reflect the prosperity in my heart. My heart is filled with gratitude and expresses itself with generosity. Putting the needs of others ahead of my wants first, enriches my heart. So I’ll probably take some of my wants and give to others who have real needs.”
“But, you have a long list of people and organizations, and there is an ever expanding definition of ‘need’ to fulfill. What if they don’t all need help?”
“Everybody needs help,” I said. “Besides, everyone welcomes gifts.”
“Yeah, well, so do I, so don’t forget to throw a bone or two my way once in a while,” he said with his usual humor.
I laughed. “I’ll do even better than that. I’ll buy a couple of dogs to go with the bones.”
“You mean you’ll splurge?” he asked with sarcasm.
“Yep, I have it all calculated and there still will be some left over for a few wants and desires,” I chuckled.
“Aren’t you missing something?” asked Id.
“The ticket,” he exclaimed. “You can’t dream to win without a ticket.”
The nozzle clicked. My tank was full. I placed the nozzle back in its place, and at the spur of the moment, I ran inside. “One super lotto quick-pick please,” I said.
…On my way to work.
Ah, you got me thinking again my friend. A million dollar, what to do or how to part with it… that shouldn’t be hard with all the charities and family and friends in need who will all start coming your way. I’m sure one would whole heartedly help out and be there for them without a second thought. With that kind of money one can afford to be the top philanthropist in any 5th grade. There can be a million compelling answers to the million dollar question. But what if there is no “Million dollar” in the vicinity and you’re aware of all the family members, friends or charities close to your heart that are in dire need, then, how would one respond and be able to sleep at night?