About a month ago, when the Mega Millions climbed towards a billion dollars, and everyone (including Ann Rice) bought tickets, I’d decided that I was going to live my life as though I’d already won the lottery. Minus that initial insane wave of rampant spending, of course.
I’m fortunate in that I do have a pretty good life. We could all make a list of what we don’t have, what we never got to see and what we couldn’t afford to do.
But what about the things we already have, have already seen and have already done? It seems like one of the hardest things for people to do is to simply appreciate what they have. We’re conditioned to want more in a time when much of what we do spend our money on has built-in obsolescence – the way your new laptop is out of date before you even get it home to install last year’s version of Microsoft Office.
I can look around the house as I type this and see so many things that were so important to have, such necessities – until they were added to the ever-growing collection, instantly changing from a highly sought after Toy Of The Month into one more piece of clutter.
I have a lot of books, CDs and DVDs. Being in radio, I used to pretend that I needed these items for work. They became my raison d’ être of my job. At a moment’s notice, I might need an instrumental version of an Abba song or a clip from “The Wedding Singer”. I might need to grab the theme from the third season of “Leave It To Beaver” or find the particular line in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” that begins “Whereat With Blade, With Bloody Blameful Blade…”
Of course, the Internet itself has rendered most of that unnecessary. I can quickly do a search on a quote and have multiple sources within seconds. And I can pay Rhapsody and Netflix for subscriptions to have a generous library of music, movies and television shows all at the ready. And for what those sites don’t have, there’s always YouTube.
While that may have slowed it down a bit, that hasn’t changed that feeling that I need to have these things. And to maintain them. The having became the important thing. But besides having these things in my extensive collection, do I really appreciate them?
Here’s a look at some of my CDs. You can’t tell from this picture, but they’re all alphabetized by artist. Pretty, aren’t they?
I haven’t listened to them all. I probably haven’t listened to a lot of them. I could probably listen to one or two every day, ones I haven’t ever played, and not hear the same one twice for the rest of the year.
DVDs are getting that bad, too. And what’s worse, many of those aren’t even opened. In fact, there are some that I have multiple copies of, just because I forgot that I already had it. I think I have three copies of “The Big Lebowski”.
And there are books. Overflowing the shelves. Some still in boxes from when I moved here over six years ago. How many of those haven’t I read? I couldn’t guess. But I have them.
If I just started appreciating the things I have, it would be like I’d been on a shopping spree.
Of course, it’s not just about things.
I work hard. Too much. The days blend into one another sometimes. And the weekend is always a shining beacon of hope, waiting for me at the end.
I live in Sunny San Diego, about half an hour from the ocean. And the ocean for me is a kind of therapy. After a particularly difficult week, I can spend an hour at the beach, staring at the waves, and feel recharged, filled with transcendental calm. In fact, this is the wallpaper on my cellphone...
But life happens, and I don’t make it nearly as often as I’d like.
I find myself getting angry sometimes, when I’m unable to shirk my responsibilities – as a husband, as a father, even as a pet-owner. It isn’t fair. Everyone else gets to do what they want.
Seriously, I have thought that.
Instead, though, I need to appreciate what I have. I have kids who aren’t going to be living at home forever (despite what I sometimes think). Kids who even like to spend time with their mom and me (sometimes).
And anyone who’s ever had pets knows how sadly temporary they are. We have three dogs, all roughly the same age. And a cat. And one day, I’ll be heartsick about at least seventy-five percent of them.
And most important, I have Lisa. She’s very busy, plans much too much and tends to forget to tell me that she’s obligated me for something.
She is also, by far, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I used to think I wanted to find someone that knew me and loved me anyway. This is better than that, because she knows me and loves me because of who I am, not in spite of it.
And as sappy as that might sound, that’s quite a treasure.
I hope you have someone in your life that makes you feel that kind of windfall. Figuring out how to appreciate them, as well as the other bric-a-brac you’ve already accumulated, is a great way to feel like you’ve already won the lottery!
P.S. - Hi Marvin! It's all there - "Whereat with blade:, foreign expression (raison d’ être) and even transcendental!