22. Winner of the jackpot

We were amidst the lush forests, mountains and waterfalls of the South Island. There wasn’t much to do in a remote and godforsaken part of it. It made us more reliant on each other. We had to make something of it, and so we did. No worries. Due to the lack of distracting sideshows, we really connected to each other. During a hike, we chatted for hours on end about all sorts of stuff. The conversation wandered off to finances at some point. Ah, money. Of course. She asked a rehearsed yet interesting question: “What would you do if you win the jackpot?” I replied that I’ve already won it. It slipped out of my mind without giving it a second thought. The conversation stalled briefly. I got goosebumps. Realizing that I genuinely thought that way moved me. This was no philosophical drivel, no wishful thinking or a pep talk. I hadn’t learned someone’s (famous) striking quote by heart. It was my words, based on my gradually formed conviction. Experience speaks. That’s why I said it so convincingly.

Adult life is quite a puzzle of numerous pieces. I puzzled along with patience and perseverance. Slowly but surely, a (highly personal) image emerged. For me, this was a specific way of life, namely a sequence of temporary jobs, adventurous antics, random encounters, spontaneity and diversity. Everything was right. Most dreams are delusions, but the foremost dream came true. It felt like a grand prize in the trophy cabinet. Other trophies are financial leeway, good health, some close relationships and having everything lined up mentally. Actually, they are such ‘self-evident’ matters that we hardly think about them in daily life. If at all. Real appreciation often comes after major life-events – permanent disability, a lasting illness, the death of a loved one, rejection by your surroundings. ‘Waiting’ for that isn’t necessary, just as the eternal hope of winning the jackpot is. We mainly view it as pure luck: a winning lottery ticket or a golden combination in a slot machine. All the accompanying flashes, bleeps and lost heads complete this vision. The possibilities of large sums of money undoubtedly feel liberating. It’s logical and understandable. Still, I look at the jackpot without blinding ecstasy. I’m keeping an eye on the place where real gains can be made. It’s a place that’s much more profitable than a night shop or casino, a place that’s much more dynamic than any property can be. That place is between the ears, that place is truly yours. 

Like many, I won prizes as well. I can’t remember whether it was the jackpot of a bingo night, or a consolation prize from the State Lottery. Apparently, it didn’t really get through to me – too youthful, distracted, picky, demanding or whatever. Awareness seeped in during the mid-twenties, including the corresponding gratitude and appreciation. Cloud formations, singing birds and similar everyday things became gifts. It intensified a process of minimization. The frequent changes of traveling also contributed to this. I realized that I need much less than the demanding performance-society subconsciously showed me. My view of the jackpot changed. I regard it as a package of far-reaching (self) awareness, true acceptance, seeing things as they really are, balanced living, dealing with contradictions constructively and (a healthy degree of) emotional detachment. Thus I win without scratch cards or slot machines. Life’s a great game of chance. There’s a lot to win anyway in a transition time, which is packed with exciting challenges, opportunities and changes. Improved adaptability or imagination, for starters. Or a multitude of possibilities. They are there for the taking as soon as you recognize them. There’s still so much to do and learn, there’s so much to improve. Using your creativity and thinking capacity constructively is also a jackpot. Wherever and whenever.

In all fairness, a bag of money seems pretty cool to me. I certainly won’t refuse it if it somehow comes along my path. But it doesn’t have to. It’s not a higher goal or something I can’t live without. Of course, modern life is a lot more practical with some cash in the pocket. They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but I’m glad to have money. Because who pays, decides. Whether we like it or not, money is a key factor in all our considerations and decisions. Money steers, distributes, connects, disrupts. As a socially accepted means of exchange, it attempts to represent and control truly everything. The limited means of measurement becomes too influential and overshoots the mark. That while the whole construct sticks like a sandcastle. Trust is what keeps the system running. Money is a belief beyond biblical proportions. A faith so deeply rooted that it’s not even seen as such. A belief so far-reaching that a functional society without money is barely imaginable. Any blind faith has dire consequences, and this is no exception on the rule. What once was a logical invention has become an insatiable plague that devours everything. A parasite that drives its host to contradictory and self-destructive actions. Ever-growing debts, inequalities and uncertainties cause so much tension. The conflicts are all so apparent yet so intangible at the same time. I look in awe at the advancement that’s based on beliefs. On systems conceived by people. What doesn’t ‘really’ exist creates reality. That’s our true strength. We can create so much more than a dishonest pyramid-scheme. It’s truly unbelievable. To a certain extend, I’m forced to participate. Beyond that point, I don’t want to have anything to do with it — just a waste of my time and energy. Currency symbols obscure the broader field of vision. They stir up greed, discontent, constant comparison and other impurities. I don’t think that’s worth it. I rather put my attention on a solid base with some margin for choices. That’s all. Then I have enough. And enough is a true value to me. 

The most human things aren’t for sale, a financial score doesn’t change that at all.

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