I don’t want to win the lottery.
As a statement to the universe, this might sound a bit pathetic. No one was offering really.
I’ve never bought a lottery ticket, so I seem to be going about it the right way. As a life goal, not winning the lottery is pretty low hanging fruit.
But at one time I did want to win the lottery. Not so much as to make me actually enter but the odds are so stacked against you buying a ticket only makes you very slightly more likely to win the lottery.
But I lived ‘as if’. I lived as if a windfall of money could, would or should happen. I’d imagine what I’d do with it. The lottery is a pervasive, invasive myth of our culture offering a tantalising short cut. It’s arguable that these fantasies are harmless, little jaunts into the realms of luxury and generosity that demonstrate what we would do, what we would effect with the money bestowed upon us. It is a way of formalising some of our ambitions and values. ‘I am the sort of person who would, if I had the chance, change the world in this way, would live this way.’
We know as part of this myth that money can’t buy us happiness. The framework of a fortune nonetheless grants us the agency to imagine a cosmic adventure with ourselves at the heart of it, taking fire from the gods, we know we’ll get burned and yet we’d love to crest the hill, embers in hand, illuminated against the divinely raging sky.
Perhaps this myth of the sudden windfall can spark our imaginations, by imagining the energy and vitality such power would give us we become more energetic and vital. It’s true that the lucky people are the ones who put themselves out there again and again.
But the struggle with this myth is that it is tied up with scarcity. The life giving flame is ‘out there’ and we want to be elected cosmically to wheild its power. We would better distribute and arrange a large sum of money than the current holders of it. Money is a shorthand for ‘life changer’, we want somehow a boost of life changer we could administrate for our loved ones and our chosen causes.
We are a cup of hot water looking for a celestial dunking from a great big money tea bag, if you will. Apologies if you won’t.
We don’t have ‘enough’ we are not yet ‘comfortable’ we would like the ‘security’ to stop ‘worrying’. There’s a nagging sense that money won’t solve all these problems, but it could really help… There’s a hole, a lack, a void we are trying to fill.
A friend of mine once told me he would really love to go into space. He said he’d even been looking up the space tourism options. £250,000 he reckoned. I asked him if I gave him £250,000 if he would go. He said no. If he suddenly had £250,000 he couldn’t spend it all on going to space. He’d been talking about how much he deeply wanted to do it, but faced with the numbers he couldn’t do it. I asked, ‘What about half a million?’
A million? Two million? I can’t remember how high we got, I think possibly eight or ten million before he said, yeah I’ll do it.
I spoke to another friend who also really wanted to go to space. I said, if I gave you £250,000 would you go to space. He said yes. I said, what if I gave you half a milion. To which he answered correctly, ‘Yes, twice.’
I have sympathy with the first friend’s response, but the second friend’s response was more inspiring. The first friend wanted ‘enough’, for the space adventure not to cost. The myth of scarcity that makes us distance ourselves from our longings, living in the future rather than the present.
A story of abundance, of there being enough out there is more enriching than the myth of scarcity. We can be active participants in abundance rather that passive recipients of installments to stave off scarcity. We can help realise this abundance for one another by ploughing for it, not as wariours fighting for it. We don’t need to steal fire from the gods if there is a God who breathes fire into dust alongside us.
Our environmental, cosmic, climate security will not be bought for us by a few philanthropic champions fighting against the tide. It will be won, and is being won by people sharing together in meaningful communities where the idea of winning the lottery and having drastically more than your neighbour is faintly ridiculous.
So I’m a reformed character. Or more accurately a reforming character. I remember once imagining what it would be like to have enough money to wear a new pair of socks everyday. I love new socks! Oh the luxury! It is a nightmarish vision that is entireley unsustainable, but it would feel so good! But it also feels so good to feel the grains of sand and blades of grass between your toes and I can already participate in the heavenly abundance of those.
Like new socks I have had a penchant for ‘box fresh’ shoes. I like to keep my trainers as box fresh as possible, I love the flash of white. Inevitably shoes tarnish, and the secret of happy footwear is to be careful with them as they bed in and then accept as they get more scuffed and characterful.
A recent trip bramble picking with my wife and friend took my shoes from box fresh to bush fresh. I was initially distraught but I learnt to see it as a more evidence of the riot of abundance. There were more brambles there then we could possibly hope to pick, life was giving of itself that we could live it abundantly, vividly reminiscent of the Gospel of John. Those bursts of blue and purple are bursts of abundance reminding me that life is not confined to my boring little life of white-ish trainers, that’s there’s so much more around us.