Of my several recurring fantasies, hitting the powerball is a favorite. I’ve never actually played the lotto, and I’m opposed to how the gambling industry preys on ignorance and misfortune. However, as a friend says, “If God chose to bless me with a winning ticket, I would not refuse.”
The jackpot is $127 million. Taking the lump-sum option and after giving Uncle Sam his due, I’d have roughly $68 million to work with. The fantasy is actually not the lotto itself, but rather what I would do with such a windfall: assuring my mom the finest medical care and securing mom and dad’s retirement; houses (or mortgage pay-offs) for Miska’s parents and our siblings; gifts to our church and to several strategic Charlottesville city needs, a few other philanthropic investments. I’d pull together a few writing pals, and we’d launch a start-up press.
But perhaps my favorite part of this vision is when I call up a small handful of my dearest friends and spouses and tell them I’ve rented a few ocean front villas on a Caribbean island, one for each of us. We arrange dates, and I mail them plane tickets. I hire a chef. For an entire week, we laugh and take walks and swim and read. My friends who don’t know one another meet, and we all reminisce about what we’ve shared. We look forward to whatever is to come. I’m tempted to say I’d spring for two weeks, but Lewis’ wisdom comes to mind, the bit about resisting the temptation to grab a second piece of fruit when one left you gloriously filled and delighted.
This vision brings me such joy because friendship is one of life’s true sparks. The older I get, the more I believe that friendship is one of the true goods, a necessity, one of the things without which life has little meaning, no fire. It’s not simply that I need companionship, though I do, but that I need the other. I need them so that I can see and taste and know. I need friends in order to love. I need friends in order to believe. As Daniel Taylor says, “a shared belief isn’t joining the herd, it’s multiplied pleasure and shared risk.”
Our world can be a frightening place. Our world is also a splendidly wondrous place. Friends make much of the difference between the two. On that score, I’ve already hit the jackpot. But if ever I were to hit it again, I’d certainly share.