"D'you know what I'm going to do when I win the lottery...?"
If we had a winning ticket for every time we've heard that line, right? We think about that debt absolving, travel enabling, financially "freeing" smile-of-fate ourselves, dreaming up the countless ways we'd spend our easy millions.
This time, the words are tripping from my friend's tongue hopefully, excitedly, purposefully. As we sit, waiting for spare parts, side by side on a hard wooden bench in IKEA she continues:
When I win the lottery (Let's say ninety million dollars, to start?), I'm going to make it my full time job to give it away! I'll hire a few friends and we'll spend our days coming up with creative ways to anonymously help people who need it.
Her excitement is contagious. My heart rate increases as my imagination slips into overdrive. For hours, she and I hash out (and argue against) all sorts of possible methods and means of helping and serving and giving; of surprising and enabling and fixing. Long after we part ways later that afternoon I continue to allow myself the liberating joy of pretending a limitless supply of give-away money.
My friend's obvious joy at the thought of giving unreservedly is gripping, engaging. I carry her thinking with me into supper prep and onto the treadmill. I wrestle with it in front of the t.v. and while I'm reading a chapter-or-two before sleep. I wonder about it on the way to bed and stay awake long into the night thinking it through. What would I do with $90 million dollars? What would wisdom dictate? Reckless, God-like Love would say...what? Practicality would demand...? Friendship would insist on...?
By 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning I change the focus -- just a little. I'm losing heart, of course, realizing that the odds of my ever having such a towering stack of cash are pretty slim (especially since we don't actually buy lottery tickets!).
Then I think, "Well. I don't have $90,000,000. In fact, I don't even have $90 thousand...or $900. In fact, this month, we don't even have $90 left to give away. But I can do ninety cents. I can always do ninety cents and, some days and weeks and months, I'll be able to do closer to ninety dollars. One day, when the costs of feeding hungry tummies and keeping shoes on always-stretching feet are lessened, that number will climb closer to $900.
There's always a little that we can set aside to share, right? It's enchanting, alluring to dream of big numbers and big results (micro loans all over Central America; goat herds throughout Africa; clean water, clean water, clean water; brightly illustrated books in girls' schools in Pakistan; homes for every child in my city). So enchanting.
I'd like to keep dreaming about those big numbers. In my real-world-giveaway-tin there are, roughly, ninety give-away cents right now. I'm going to set-to learning the wisdom and Love and practicality and compassion that will stretch those pennies as far as miraculously possible. If I become versed in that insight with our pocket change, perhaps the ninety, nine hundred, and nine hundred thousand dollar give-aways will be that much more impactful when the time comes?