When the Powerball Jackpot edged up over a billion dollars recently, it was difficult not to get carried away with the possibilities, even with the astronomical odds against winning the big prize which were 1 to 292 million.
We almost never play the lottery, but when my sweetie pie came home holding a single ticket it was hard not to sit and dream.
“I’d buy a big house on St. Croix,” Ryan said.
“We already have a lovely condo there with a magnificent view of Christiansted Harbor,” I pointed out. “Do we really need something bigger?”
He stared at me for a moment. “Okay. What would you want?” he asked.
I thought for a while. What do I want? The question had me reflecting on a time in my life when money wasn’t an issue. I’d been engaged to a wealthy man back in the 80s. He didn’t want me to work and pretty much told me to buy whatever I wanted.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But it turns out being able to purchase whatever you want doesn’t always make you happy. I remember one year when I took twelve vacations, some that were ridiculously expensive, like the time we chartered a magnificent sailboat and cruised the Caribbean with a captain, boatboy, and private chef, along with cases of our favorite libations.
I was in my mid-twenties at the time, and up until that point I’d wanted to be a sportscaster. I’d worked for years following that dream. But then my partner said there was no reason for me to work and that he preferred I not go into a career where I needed to access athletic locker rooms. I tried to convince myself that I’d be happy being Mrs. Him. And I’m embarrassed to admit that those no-limit credit cards made me forget my career goals, at least for a while.
But was I happy?
Years later, when I became a teacher, I tried to explain to my students that while money certainly makes life easier in some ways it doesn’t fix everything. “Here’s the problem,” I said. “If you can buy anything you want, whenever you want, eventually you run out of things to want.”
Mostly, they laughed and shook their heads like I was crazy.
“What’s really important is doing things you love. Making positive connections with people. Having work or hobbies that, most of the time, you look forward to doing.”
And still they weren’t convinced.
“I’d play video games all day!” one student said.
“I’d buy lots of pretty clothes and jewelry,” another said grinning.
“My friends and I will just hang out and do nothing!” came a voice from the back of the room.
“Ah, that might be a problem,” I said. “Your friends will probably have jobs and responsibilities and won’t have time to just hang out with you.”
I knew this from experience. What I recall from having all that money was that I was terribly lonely.
And I struggled with letting go of my dream of being a sportscaster. I remember a moment, late one evening, when I stared at a catalogue filled with pricy designer dresses. I ordered a black-lace, formal gown made by Norma Kamali. It was absurdly expensive. Afterward, I remember feeling nothing, because what I truly wanted was to be a sportscaster and no amount of money could buy that for me.
I still have that dress, and all these years later it reminds me of what I learned: Things don’t make us happy. Things lose their shine after a while. Making memories is the key. When I’m on my deathbed, the only thing I’ll have is stories. None of those purchases will be coming with me.
I stared at my sweetie pie.
“What do I want? World peace would be nice, but that’s not possible.” I smiled.
Eventually, I decided I would buy one thing: a big, beautiful piece of natural aquamarine. (I’m a rock collector.) Then, I would give a lot of that money away. After that, I’d travel the world.
And…I’d always spring for First Class.
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
February 2, 2022
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
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2 thoughts on “Is money alone enough to make us happy?”
You had me at first class, Anne! Fun post. I’d give most of my winnings away too. Here’s to living the dream!
I’m raising my glass to you, Ms. Sharon! Enjoy! 😉