So the genuine winner of the thirty three million pound lottery prize has finally been found and now there are a few dozen very nervous false claimants wondering if they are going to prison rather than on a Caribbean cruise. These Lottery stories seem to capture the imagination of the public every time they come around and spark off another succession of conversations that start with, “what would you do with x million pounds?” I don’t feel qualified to contribute to the debate because I have never bought a lottery ticket and don’t ever intend to. Why would I put myself through all that false hope and then disappointment when I already feel rich? Gambling is one way of getting rich but the odds are long and even those that win don’t always get what they want. Search the internet for “Lottery winner stories” and you will find numerous sad accounts of couples and individuals who found that untold wealth is no guarantee of happiness and many who ended up losing everything they won. There are even a few tragic cases that led to suicide.
Of course it does work for some people but if you read the stories of those that did cope with a big win they all talk with great satisfaction about giving money away, helping others and, in many cases, being able to do voluntary work and to support charities. In other words it is the giving rather than the gaining that has actually brought them happiness.
Personally, rather than hope in vain for a huge bank balance I choose to think about what defines being rich.
All this navel gazing has come about because of a conversation yesterday that ranged from pensions and retirement via the recent unclaimed lottery win story to some of our experiences on our ride around the coast of Britain. We met many rich people on our travels but not all of them had money. So what is wealth and how do we achieve it?
I accept that for some people money will do the trick but I really don’t think it’s the only option. When we went on our trip we had managed to set aside ten thousand pounds and in the end we spent eight thousand of it during the five months on the road. For eight thousand pounds we could have bought four thousand lottery tickets, a small basic car or a three week luxury cruise. We chose to spend it on campsite fees, simple food, a beer or two and enough memories to last us a lifetime. Here are just some of the things that we got for our money:
150 completely unique days each of which had it’s own ups and downs in every sense.
Countless scenes that are etched into our minds for future viewing.
Acts of kindness that ranged from meals and accommodation to just an encouraging word on a gloomy day.
The satisfaction of getting somewhere by our own effort and determination.
The endless discovery of boundaries that could be stretched and broken only to discover new ones waiting for us.
The investment of suffering that adds value to pleasure and comfort.
2000 photos to re-kindle memories
80,000 written words that I can re-read when my memory struggles with the details.
A bunch of new friends that continue to enhance our lives from a distance.
A large bucket of anecdotes that I can torture people with when I am old and senile.
Never having to wonder what it would be like to ‘take the plunge” because we’ve done it and it turns out to be great. (Thanks for the reminder Gareth)
So my chances of winning the lottery may be non-existent but that doesn’t mean I will never be rich; far from it.