I should probably start by clarifying that the Californian who won Powerball is not me, just in case you were wondering.
One fun thing about Powerball fever is talking with people about how they would spend the money. Everyone I spoke with planned to share their winnings with friends and family, and some more widely. No one said, “I’m going to put it in a Swiss bank account, buy the biggest yacht I can find, and go live in the middle of the ocean by myself.”
The idea of having $1.5 billion dollars allows us to imagine abundance, which appears to inspire generosity. The thing is, we live inside of astonishing abundance every day.
I was eavesdropping on a conversation between a few students on campus the other day. (Yes, if you’re near me, I’m eavesdropping on you. It’s one of my favorite pastimes.) Two of them wished a third good luck on a presentation, and after he left proceeded to pick his appearance apart in a breathtakingly unkind and thorough way.
Wow, I thought, that’s harsh, and not five seconds later watched myself internally do exactly the same thing to someone who for whatever reason didn’t meet my expectations. It was unsettling.
I think if we were truly conscious of the abundance of gifts we have, that judgmental voice in our heads might quiet down. We might recognize that this other person is a gift, that he or she is part of ourselves in ways that we can’t fully understand and that quite literally make us whole. We might be more generous—with our patience, with our love, with our understanding.
And the odds of success are better than 292 million to one.