Did you ever think about winning the lottery? I hear people mention it now and again, usually joking about how it would make their life easier, and how they could quit their miserable job or do whatever they wanted without having to worry about things.
And by “things,” they mean money.
I don’t know if all that is true, and I’ve heard and read things reporting that often, the outcome is just the opposite for lottery winners; that it isn’t all champagne and fun, travel and carefree days and relaxing nights. I’ve heard many lottery winners end up losing much of the money they win, and if they don’t, many end up unhappy or unsatisfied, even though they theoretically have it all.
I bring it up today, because this morning, the concept of a lottery popped into my head, but not one that has to do with money. It’s a different kind.
Today is my birthday. I don’t tell you that because I’m seeking well-wishes, gifts or really any acknowledgement at all. And anyway, if you’re connected to me on social media, I’m sure you’ve already been given a reminder about it.
I’m simply stating a fact. Fifty-five years ago today, I came into the world. And now, every year, just like most everyone else, I recognize that another year has passed.
“It’s no big deal; just another day,” I often think. After all, I feel good, not just for my age, but for any age. I don’t have any illnesses or physical ailments (that I know of), and I’ve had – by most accounts – a comfortable, productive and happy life.
But this morning, after I got up thinking how today was “just another day,” I immediately second-guessed myself. “Is it?” I asked myself. “Is it ‘just another day’ that I – or you or the person sitting in the next cubicle or the guy that just missed the bus at the corner, or anyone – is experiencing as a living, breathing person, put here however many years ago?
I mean, the chance that your or I are here, that we were created at all, is a lottery shot, right? More than that, I’m sure. I mean, the chance that you or I are who we are – or that we are at all – has to be far greater long shot than the chance of winning any Megabucks, Powerball or super-duper, multi-million-dollar prize.
Yet here we are. You and me. All of us. Lottery winners. All one-in-a-gazillion, once-in-a-lifetime chances. Hell, we are “once-in-all-lifetimes’ chance combined, right? Because there never was, nor will there ever be, another you or me. It’s as if someone bought a ticket for a prize that was to be given once in all of eternity, and it hit.
And with that lottery prize, we’ve been given – without earning any of it – a massive wealth called a life. Mine started, without my permission or my authority, on the morning of December 9, 1964. That makes me a baby boomer. Had I made it to my due date – several weeks after my actual birth as I understand it – I’d be a Gen Xer. I like that. It’s quirky. But had I made it to my due date, would I even be the same person I am today. I don’t know. And I don’t care. Because I’m me, and I like that.
And as me, from my first day on earth, even without knowing it, I started spending – and to some extent – investing my “life lottery” winnings. Over the years, I’ve spent and invested wisely, but I’ve also wasted and lost some of it, maybe too much of it, some would say, but I hope not.
And now, 55 years to the day after pulling that winning lottery ticket, I’m left sitting quietly, thinking about where I’ve been and also where I’ll go from here. How I’ll live my life from this point on. How I’ll spend and invest what’s left.
Just like a cash lottery, life wealth doesn’t guarantee happiness. That has to come from within. Too often, people let their happiness suffer because they expect something or someone else bring them satisfaction. Or they give in to or give up on things, others or themselves, especially when things are going as expected. They get caught up in things they’ll regret later on, things that are dangerous or unhealthy, things that threaten to sap their life wealth, possibly at an alarming rate.
It’s happened to me, and I’m sure on some level, it’s happened to you too. I am a happy person; happy that I was given this rare and unique opportunity. Happy about many of the things I’ve accomplished, the friends I have, and mostly importantly, my family.
But at 55, I know there’s more out there. More life to be lived, and more of this wealth I’ve been given to be spent and invested; most of it wisely but some frivolously, too. Because that’s OK too, sometimes.
I don’t know how long my life wealth will last. I hope it’s a good, long time, but regardless, I can’t – and I won’t – wait to use it to my benefit; to make myself and others happy. Some people say we should live every day like it’s our last. I don’t like that phrase because even though I understand its meaning, it has a level of finality – fatality -- to it. I just want to make the most of my days, whether I have 100 or 100,000 left.
So, as I sit here on the 55th anniversary of winning the life lottery, one of the last Baby Boomers born on this planet, the youngest child of Rose and Don Haznaw, I’m pledging to invest my life wealth into things, people and experiences that matter. I hope you feel the same, not only on your birthday, but every day. Because come to think of it, maybe today is a big deal, and not just another day, for me or for any of us.
I hope today finds you well, I really do.
© 2019 David R. Haznaw