Winning the Lottery

Did you win one of the lottery mega jackpots recently? The statistical probability of someone reading this having won the lottery is rather small, to be sure. Have you invested some money in the possibility of winning one of the largest jackpots in history?

I must admit that I did. Usually, I only buy a lottery ticket when I have an intuitive urge to do so. (My statistical probability of winning then is rather high.) Obviously, I didn’t win this time around. You’d likely be hearing my name in the news rather than as the author of this piece. I might then be typing this from a tropical beach rather than my office on a snowy Spring Day in New England.

As we all do, I pondered what I would do with the winnings. Like many others, I would take care of family members and loved ones first. Then I would create a foundation to help animals, kids, and the unhoused population. There might be a tiny castle in Ireland in the mix, too. In this wondering of what winning this money would bring, I was reminded of a different lesson.

Money is, of course, a necessity and a blessing allowing you to live your life; however, I have known family members of people on the Forbes’ list of the richest in this country who kept trying to “find themselves” while exhibiting behaviors hurtful to themselves and others. The wealth available to them didn’t fill the lack these people found within. Money can be a blessing, to be sure, but also a burden. The stories of lottery winners whose lives have been destroyed are a prime example.

The lottery this time was a reminder of what really matters to me in the world. I do work right now to help kids, animals and the homeless. Compassion and empathy and kindness are not contingent on an external reward to fund them. We can do what we can, with what we have, from where we are.

Have I played the lottery? Yes, and I have won it more times than I can express – the lottery of life. I am blessed by the life I have had the opportunity to live, and the choices I get to make. I am grateful for the people I know and love, joyous with the rising of the sun and the full moon. Life is not always easy, but the lessons learned along the way are worth more than a fancy car, or even that tiny castle in Ireland.

We win the lottery just by waking up again every day. We win by finding gratitude in all that we have rather than longing for all that we do not.

Perhaps one day, I’ll be on that tropical beach just enjoying the view. That day, as in each day, like you, I really have won the biggest prize.

susan schirl smith
Susan Schirl Smith is a writer, photographer and holistic nurse based in New Hampshire. Her essays have been published in Cognoscenti, Pangyrus, Silver Birch Press and The Journal of Holistic Nursing. Her photography has been featured in Barren Magazine and L’Ephemere Review. Smith’s current manuscript is Desperado, a memoir of her brother. You can follow Susan on her website or Facebook.

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