A Love Story

It was the early nineties and the first time I saw Cortni, I was blown away. She had eyes like a cat with a regal aire that commanded the attention of the young men in the office. Carla, a co-worker, and I were across the room one day watching this phenomenon. She leaned over to me and whispered, “look at those wolves.” I turned to her and said “I’ll get her.” And I did. Three weeks and three days after our first date, we rode to the Jefferson Memorial on my motorcycle and I proposed to her on the steps amidst the cherry blossoms and white stone majesty of my favorite monument.

Three and a half years later it ended.

Because that’s not a love story. It’s a fairy tale. It’s believing marketers selling an idea as reality, the movies portraying starry eyed fantasies and commercials for diamonds. It’s believing there actually are white knights who can ride in with their trusty steeds and carry the princess off into the sunset. It’s thinking that reality can be sustained on the vaporous dreams of storybooks. But a stone doesn’t have magical power to keep the bonds of commitment strong. It’s a stone no matter how much was spent on it. What creates a real love story are the little things. Not grand gestures or superficial displays of affection. It’s not quality time. It’s Time.

A real love story is something wholly different, infinite and more there.

Diane was stunning and brilliant. She was the opposite of the everyone who had come before. She even intimidated me a little with her outgoing, carefree attitude. Before our first date she was moving a hundred miles an hour in her jean shorts and ripped Motley Crue t-shirt while I waited for her to get ready. But there was something compelling about her. Something underneath. The independence, the eyes-wide-open intelligence and the supreme confidence in who she was. No one could tell her who to be or how to act. She was who she was and she would never apologize for it. I was a goner.

Within a year, it was clear we wanted to spend a life together. Not because of fascination or infatuation, but because it just kinda made sense. We belonged together and everything we believed and how we saw the world matched. Not the same, but like two clues that fit to make a whole picture. As cliché as it sounds, she truly did complete me.

But this love story is not what comes to mind when you think about Valentine’s Day. It’s not flowers, chocolate and jewels. It’s not showing appreciation just one day a year because “you’re supposed to.” It’s kind of plain. This story is about being there any and every time she needs me. It’s making toast and poached eggs every single morning and bringing it to her in bed because for nine months those mornings were hard and she deserved every ounce of energy I could devote. It’s about supporting her when she’s afraid and trusting her when I am. It is a love story in which I make her laugh every day– even if it’s at me– and laughing right along with her. It’s a story about celebrating her triumphs– even if it’s just when the new dish she wanted to try turns out perfectly. It’s a story of listening. My love story is peppered with conversations about nothing or everything and being able to say anything in either kind. In the pages of my book, we are having these conversations still, after twenty-two years. My love story tells of believing with all my heart that this one person is the person I find comfort with today, tomorrow and onward. The theme is talking. The plot is small touches; like the tap on my nose to dissipate the static before kissing every time we leave each other’s side.

My love story is not unique, hopefully. And it’s not filled with poetic words. It’s simple. I love Diane with everything I am. Still, and forever. Not because someone tells me to or so I can put it on the bumper of my car. Not because I married her and that’s the way married people are supposed to be. It’s because she has been there for me in my darkest hour and during my greatest triumphs as I have been for her. We have participated in each other’s lives to the fullest; in the truest meaning of “for better or for worse.” We are constantly exploring and there is always so much to know and learn so we do it together.

Diane is my all, my everything. She is my journey and my destination. And after twnety-two years, as this story is still being written, whenever she walks into the room or I hear her voice as she approaches, I am breathless.

The Myth of Quality Time

_MG_0169About a year ago, I wrote an essay called Living the Hyperopic Life.   It was a dissertation on the ideas of balance, living for now, living on purpose and making sure, when you looked back at the end, you are certain in your heart that it was a life well-lived.  One part dealt with taking time and making it worth something.   Blocks of time, snippets of time, anything you could carve out between the important things and responsibilities you had.   These little bits of time, strung together, would weave the tapestry of your life.  The more meaningful the time spent, the tighter the weave.

If you could paint a picture of this tapestry, it would not be pretty.  It isn’t one of those neatly woven, ornate fabrics you see in stores.  The resemblance is more like a rag but with different kinds of thread and materials all woven together in a tangle of structure.  It has every color you could imagine (if you do it right) and all manner of materials; smooth velvets,  tough, yet solid and comforting denims, whimsical tassels, maybe even a few bits of aluminum foil here and there or splinters of wood stuck in the folds; whatever you fancy in your imagination could represent  whatever it is you did to create it.  This is your life and you add to that tapestry each time you took hold of and lived your life on purpose.

That’s what it should look like.   But take a moment to consider what all these bits and pieces of time mean?  Where are they and by what measure do you define them?

Every so often you’ll hear the phrase Quality Time.   The basic premise of this idea, as I understand it, is that if you do something really splendid with someone you care about, the time spent can be labeled Quality Time and that particular block of time will be worth more time than it actually took.  Bank enough Quality Time and you’ve got a whole lifetime in no time at all.   It seems that Quality Time evolved as people worked longer hours, both parents had to work or someone decided to work a whole lot now, so they could enjoy themselves later.  Quality Time gave permission to spend less time with  those people you really should be spending time with so you had more time to do the things you really wanted to do.   More me time, maybe?    Suddenly, there’s more time to chase the money, work late hours, disregard the children, take a vacation  and leave the kids at home (don’t get me started with that last one.)

I do not presume to know how people work out their lives.   Everyone has their own way of doing things and their own interpretation of what makes good time spent.  Who am I to tell them what to do and never would I presume to do that.   Each of us is different and if it’s really working for you, don’t stop.   Because it’s rare that we find that butter zone of being able to make it all work out right and it’s always good policy to ride that mellow when you find it.

A person has to be honest with themselves, though, in assessing whether it’s working or not.  You have to say it’s fat when it’s fat and don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s muscle.   Without that naked honesty, you won’t see if there’s something wrong or if you’re making excuses by using Quality Time as permission to neglect those people who should be occupying important moments in your life.

All the time you spend with someone has the same length and you can’t compress it like calories are compressed into high fructose corn syrup, sweetening the time you do with the hope of making it better somehow.  Time does not distill.  What matters is what you fill it with and how.  Whether you’re winging off to London to do the Europe thing or sitting at the kitchen bar telling them it’s OK to draw outside the lines if they want, the minutes are 60 seconds long and the days have 1440 minutes.  All day long.  You’re there, present either way, and that’s where the value is.

It seems to me, more often than not, Quality Time is what people use as an excuse not to do the little things.  “Oh, I spent some quality time earlier with Bill watching a movie so I’m going golfing with my buddies now.”  Quality Time is  a myth.  It’s cheating.

I truly believe it’s not Quality Time you want to shoot for, but time.  Just time.  If a particular moment  only lasts 20 minutes doesn’t mean it isn’t a good thing or even a great thing. Maybe it lasts an hour and during that hour you only did a few things that didn’t amount to much.  Where was the focus?   On just the two of you?  Sounds to me like that’s all the quality you might need.  The world moves pretty fast these days.   Two minutes or two hours can really be just the same in terms of value as long as the focus has the purity of you wanting to be there and joy in just paying attention to each other.

Have you seen that movie, City of Angels, with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan?  Earlier in the movie Meg Ryan’s character had been frustrated by the fact that she and her doctor-boyfriend didn’t spend any real time together.  In one later scene, he comes into the locker room at the hospital and sits down opposite Ryan on a bench.   He stares meaningfully into her eyes and is silent.   She looks at him suspiciously and then asks “what are you doing?” and he replies, “I’m spending time with you.”   It’s a joke really.  Here he was trying to manufacture Quality Time.  Is the time you spend with people you care about like that?   An exercise out of a book or something you do out of obligation?   Pardon me for saying so, but if that’s the case, you’re doing it wrong.

Did you turn away from the tourist attraction and taste the light breeze that brings the scent of the ocean off Sydney Harbor?  Do you fully appreciate the serendipitous turn you took down a narrow alley that brought you to the tavern with the best bangers and mash you’d ever had (once you figured out what the hell bangers and mash were?)  Did you take a breath and recognize the fantastically special moment you just shared together whatever it may have been?

It’s this nuanced kind of existence that fills in all the little chinks and cracks that may otherwise undermine a good well-lived life.  And if you’ll forgive me the mixed metaphor, it’s this kind of living which creates the many-textured, multi-colored tapestry that is only best when it’s one of the ugliest things we’ve ever seen.  Pausing to hear the humming in the other room of a known or made up tune;  Listening to your son when he says, “I finally got the definition I wanted.”  Even if you ask, “In your life?” and he responds “No, in my arm muscles,” you get it and smile right at him.  He may not show it, but he’s paying attention and will always remember that.

We went to Hawaii this year on a very rare and special family vacation (the best kind.  It would not be the same if we went all the time.)  We tasted tropical delights, saw sunsets that made our hearts ache, swam with dolphins, giant sea turtles and the vast Pacific Ocean seeing tropical fish of any color you could imagine … It was fantastic.   A few months later, I asked my eldest son what the best part of the summer was.  I fully expected that rare kind of family vacation to be the answer.   But to my surprise and delight, he proclaimed it to be the building of a wooden airplane with grandpa.  Time.

The folks who are relying on the Myth of Quality Time as a measure of their parenting, brotherhood,           sisterhood, whatever-hood are missing it.   If we leave out the fun and the completeness of participating to the fullest in the lives of the people we care about, we’re straining and stretching the connections we as humans thrive on.  Those connections become more  gossamer and fragile; more vulnerable to any slight or misunderstanding.

It takes practice to get better at anything.   They say to master something you have to spend 10,000 hours doing it.  So, start with 10,000 minutes (about a week) of practice and maybe get in a really good minute.  Then go for two.  And suddenly, as you spend your lives together you may build such great emotional muscles and such a strong bond that the practice required starts to fall away and you have the well-trained, fine-tuned relationship you know you should.

Talking or being quiet.  Riding in the car to music lessons, celebrating an essay well-written, an song well-played, a joke that went over well with new friends in school.  All of it matters as much as – or perhaps more than – those big trips and expensive gifts.

Finally, consider music.  If you think about it, there is no music without the space between the notes.   Some would say music is the space between the notes.  So, too, is time.  Quality Time is not the big stuff.  It is the silence between the notes, the nuance of the phrasing in the music that is our lives.  Because although the notes themselves are great (trips and adventures), when the music stops, silence is all you have and then you need to be able to fill that silence (or not) with your thoughts and dreams and desires and hopes or whatever comes to mind.

What does your tapestry look like so far and how does the music it makes sound?

Santa Physics

A note about this essay: It’s not mine. And it’s been around for quite some time. If I recall correctly, I’ve known about this from the early 90s when email kinda first became main stream. But I haven’t seen it around lately, always liked it for its mix of serious physical principles and dry humor and so I thought I’d dredge it up and post it for anyone who might not have read it before (although that might not be possible with all the chain mail that has gone around over the last 15 odd years.) We’ll see. If you’ve read it…enjoy it again, if not, have fun.

No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.
There are two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn’t appear to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and

Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total – 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. One presumes there’s at least one good child in each.
Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second.
This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about

.78 miles per household, a total trip of 75^12 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.
This means that Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second – a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.
If every one of the 91.8 million homes with good children were to put out a single chocolate chip cookie and an 8 ounce glass of 2% milk, the total calories (needless to say other vitamins and minerals) would be approximately 225 calories (100 for the cookie, give or take, and 125 for the milk, give or take). Multiplying the number of calories per house by the number of homes (225 x 91.8 x 1000000), we get the total number of calories Santa consumes that night, which is 20,655,000,000 calories. To break it down further, 1 pound is equal to 3500 calories. Dividing our total number of calories by the number of calories in a pound (20655000000/3500) and we get the number of pounds Santa gains, 5901428.6, which is 2950.7 tons.

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that “flying reindeer” (see above) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload (not even counting the weight of the sleigh) to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison, this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth II . 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance – this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion: If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s dead now.

Santa Physics – A Rebuttal

Originally posited by Jim Mantle, Waterloo Maple Software

Come on, ya gotta believe! I mean, if you can handle flying furry animals, then it’s only a small step to the rest. For example:

  1. As admitted, it is possible that a flying reindeer can be found. I would agree that it would be quite an unusual find, but they might exist.
  2. You’ve relied on cascading assumptions. For example, you have assumed a uniform distribution of children across homes. Toronto/Yorkville, or Toronto/Cabbagetown, or other yuppie neighbourhoods, have probably less than the average (and don’t forget the DINK and SINK homes (Double Income No Kids, Single Income No Kids)), while the families with 748 starving children that they keep showing on Vision TV while trying to pick my pocket would skew that 15% of homes down a few percent.
  3. You’ve also assumed that each home that has kids would have at least one good kid. What if anti-selection applies, and homes with good kids tend to have more than their share of good kids, and other homes have nothing except terrorists in diapers? Let’s drop that number of homes down a few more percent.
  4. Santa would have to Fedex a number of packages ahead of time, since he would not be able to fly into Air Force Bases, or into tower-controlled areas near airports. He’s get shot at over certain sections of the Middle East, and the no-fly zones in Iraq, so he’d probably use DHL there. Subtract some more homes.
  5. I just barely passed Physics and only read Stephen Hawking’s book once, but I recall that there is some Einsteinian Theory that says time does strange things as you move faster. In fact, when you go faster than the speed of light time runs backward, if you do a straight line projection, connect the dots and just ignore any singularity you might find right at the speed of light. And don’t say you can’t go faster than the speed of light because I’ve seen it done on TV. Jean-Luc doesn’t have reindeer but he does have matter-antimatter warp engines and a holodeck and that’s good enough for me.So Santa could go faster than light, visit all the good children which are not uniformly distributed by either concentration in each home or by number of children per household, and get home before he left so he can digest all those stale cookies and warm milk yech.
  6. Aha, you say, Jean-Luc has matter-antimatter warp engines, Santa only has reindeer, where does he get the power to move that fast!

You calculated the answer! The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy. Per second. Each. This is an ample supply of energy for the maneuvering, acceleration, etc, that would be required of the loaded sleigh. The reindeer don’t evaporate or incinerate because of this energy, they accelerate. What do you think they have antlers for, fighting over females? Think of antlers as furry solar array panels.

  1. If that’s not enough, watch the news on the 24th at 11 o’clock. NORAD (which may be one of the few government agencies with more than 3 initials in it’s name and therefore it must be more trustworthy than the rest) tracks Santa every year and I’ve seen the radar shots of him approaching my house from the direction of the North Pole. They haven’t bombarded him yet, so they must believe too, right?

Additional considerations to the original Santa Physics theory

Author unknown

Several key points are overlooked by this callous, amateurish “study.”

  1. Flying reindeer: As is widely known (due to the excellent historical documentary “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the flying reindeer are not a previously unknown species of reindeer, but were in fact given the power of flight due to eating magic acorns. As is conclusively proven in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (a no punches pulled look at life in Santa’s village), this ability has bred true in subsequent generations of reindeer, obviously the magic acorns imprinted their power on a dominant gene sequence within the reindeer DNA strand.
  2. Number of households: This figure overlooks two key facts. First of all, the first major schism in the Church split the Eastern Churches, centered in Byzantium, from the Western, which remained centered in Rome. This occurred prior to the Gregorian correction to the Julian calendar. The Eastern churches (currently called Orthodox Churches) do not recognize the Gregorian correction for liturgical events, and their Christmas is as a result several days after the Western Churches’. Santa gets two shots at delivering toys.Secondly, the figure of 3.5 children per household is based on the gross demographic average, which includes households with no children at all. The number of children per household, when figured as an average for households with children, would therefore have to be adjusted upward. Also, the largest single Christian denomination is Roman Catholic, who, as we all know, breed like rabbits. If you don’t believe me, ask my four brothers and two sisters, they’ll back me up. Due to the predominance of Catholics within Christian households, the total number of households containing Christian children would have to be adjusted downward to reflect the overloading of Catholics beyond a standard deviation from the median.Also, the assertion that each home would contain at least one good child would be reasonable enough if there were in fact an even 3.5 children per household. However, since the number of children per household is distributed integrally, there are a significant number (on the order of several million) of one child Christian households. Even though only children are notoriously spoiled and therefore disproportionately inclined towards being naughty, since it’s the holidays we’ll be generous and give them a fifty-fifty chance of being nice. This removes one half of the single child households from Santa’s delivery schedule, which has already been reduced by the removal of the Orthodox households from the first delivery run.
  3. Santa’s delivery run (speed, payload, etc.): These all suffer from the dubious supposition that there is only one Santa Claus. The name “Santa” is obviously either Spanish or Italian, two ethnic groups which are both overwhelmingly Catholic. The last name Claus suggests a joint German/Italian background. His beginnings, battling the Burgermeister Meisterburger, suggest he grew up in Bavaria (also predominantly Catholic). The Kaiser style helmets of the Burgermeister’s guards, coupled with the relative isolation of the village, suggest that his youth was at the very beginning of Prussian influence in Germany. Thus, Santa and Mrs. Claus have been together for well over one hundred years. If you think that after a hundred years of living at the North Pole with nights six months long that they remain childless, you either don’t know Catholics or are unaware of the failure rate of the rhythm method. There have therefore been over five generations of Clauses, breeding like Catholics for over one hundred years. Since they are Catholic, their exponential population increase would obviously have a gain higher than the world population as a whole. There have therefore been more than enough new Santas to overcome the population increase of the world. So in fact, Santa has an easier time of it now than he did when he first started out.

Santa dead, indeed; some people will twist any statistic to “prove” their cynical theory.

The Lottery

There is the old saw that says the lottery is a tax on people who don’t understand math.  And, to be honest, that is the absolute truth, albeit a bit harsh.   Sure, people win.  But considering that most of the time it’s a single person and there are millions who play, those are pretty long odds.  Besides, it’s not about how many people play.   You knew that right?  I’ll get to that in a minute.

But there has been a recent uptick in the revenues that lotteries across the country are seeing.   It’s really no surprise with the economy in the tank like it is.   People just want a little of that magic to take away the sting of the headlines or that mortgage bill or the feeling that their retirement savings are just not going to cut it in the end.

But what about that math?

Wait, time out!  I know what you’re saying.  Here he goes off on some math thing again, but bare with me here.  And all you pro-lottery, “hey, I like playing and maybe I WILL win” people, read it all.  It’s not ALL math.

First, let’s consider the odds of winning the lottery.  And let’s use the big numbers because a) I like big numbers (especially the ones with dollar signs in front…ba dum dump) and b) it makes my point seem more important than some random essay on some blog somewhere.

In the big one, Powerball, the number of ways the 5 numbers on a given ticket can match the numbers drawn is figured out using the pre-calculus study of combinations and permutations., If the order of the numbers matters, it’s permutation we care about, if the order doesn’t matter, as in the lottery, it’s a combination.   The formula for this is:

_n!_

r!(n-r)!

A pretty innocuous looking thing isn’t it.   Two letters and a few exclamation points, a few horizontal lines … meh, what’s so taxing about that?  Well, it’s actually pretty powerful and the answer for increasing values of n and r gets pretty big, pretty fast.   What’s it mean?  Well, let’s say n is 4, the answer to 4! is 1x2x3x4=24.  Simple right? So whenever you see that ! notation, that means take all the numbers up to n and multiply them together.   n is the number of items in the group of things from which we’re choosing, which in the case of Powerball is 59 little white balls with numbers on them and r is the number of those balls we choose from those 59 (without duplicates, since once a ball is taken out of the blowing air it is not put back in).

_59!_

5!(59-5)!

In a spreadsheet, you could put that in as =FACT(59)/(FACT(5)*(FACT(59-5))).   Microsoft Excel has a nice function COMBIN() which you can use to figure the above as COMBIN(59,5).  You get the same results.  If you tried it you likely got 5,006,386.   So in lottery speak, that ‘s a 1 in 5,006,386 chance of winning.  This doesn’t quite match what the lottery says, but there’s a little more to the odds and that’s more math than you want and, hell, you may be beyond your limit already as it is.   So let’s just go with a little over 5 million.

People look at that and don’t really comprehend that that’s 1 divided by 5,006,386 which is 0.000000199745.  Try putting 1/5,006,386 into a spreadsheet it gives you 1.99745E-07 which is scientific notation telling you to move the decimal seven places left.   Seven!  But say you format the cell to a number with two decimal places, it changes to 0.00.   Sure, you could click the little decimal place icon so that it added zeros to the right of the decimal but you’d have to click it 5 times to get a number other than zero and that number is just a 2.   So let’s face it, 0.000000199745 might as well be 0.00 which kinda means the chances of matching those five balls is zero.

Moreover, to get the jackpot, the really big money, Powerball throws in that red ball, which adds color to all that white but maybe also makes you think that it’s got some kind of magic (it is powerball, after all) or that it improves your odds of winning.   That red ball is selected from 39 red balls, another combination multiplied by the five million number above.   If you do that math, you’re looking at 1 in 195,249,054 (COMBIN(59,5)*COMBIN(39,1) ) which makes your odds of winning even more zero than before.

The bottom line is to win the big jackpot in Powerball, your chances are zero, to win the next big one (matching just the 5 white balls for about $200k) your chances are zero and the next one are pretty much the same.  It gets a little better after that but not much.

But that’s only statistically speaking, isn’t it?  It doesn’t address the individual.  Statistics are funny things.   When I was studying math in college my statistics professor said, “you can make statistics mean anything you want.” And in most cases, that’s true.  Numbers have weight that has been ingrained in our psyche since we first learned to count…numbers are magic and if Harry Potter taught us anything, you can make magic do some serious stuff that shouldn’t be possible.  This manipulation of statistics is one of the very reasons people play the lottery.  We tend to talk ourselves into the idea that we’re going to win.  And then some wise guy comes along and tells you that you have a better chance of dying in an airplane (1 in 354,319),  getting struck by lightning (1 in 225,107) or even dying in a legal execution (1 in 3,441,325).

And yet…

It’s all just numbers and statistics and statistics can say anything you want.   Right?  Like, maybe they can also say “What if?”  What if I am the “1”.  And everyone else is the “in 195,249,053.”

Is it just about the numbers?  Is it just about plunking down your one dollar of hard earned cash (no credit cards excepted for purchase of lottery tickets, please) and then checking to see if you won?  I don’t think so.

For just a dollar, you can buy a dream.  It might last a day or a few days, but it’s there, tooling around the landscape of your mind tapping on things like that motorcycle you’ve been eyeing and the words “debt free” and the emotional satisfaction of helping out Mom or Dad; brother or sister.   Exploring the alleys where you don’t go where there are complete strangers that suddenly have smiles on their faces because you helped them out in just a small but significant way.  All because you pulled a dollar out of your wallet on a whim.  Following that dream around the byways of your head as you think about that little slip of paper in your wallet is kind of fun.   It’s a great way to take a little Dandelion Break.  You play the lottery and you get a little of that magic that numbers have.  Magic that can make you smile.

But there’s the reality of what that dollar goes to, also.   The money the state makes from the lottery (did you know they’ve been holding lotteries since the 1700s?) goes to things like open space, parks and recreation, state parks,  school health and safety programs and probably a bunch of other stuff I was too lazy to look up.  It’s kinda like giving a buck to a favorite charity.  A really big church auction only the church is right outside your door; a few blocks down and up the trail where that deer, elk or coyote happens to cross your path.

You think about the things you would by, the places you would go, the payoffs you want to make.  There’s also that fantasy of telling the boss to kiss off and making a really stellar exit.  Since I am my boss, that won’t work for me, but plenty of people have thought it.  I’ve told myself to go pound sand plenty of times already and I’m still here.

And then sometimes the philanthropy kicks in.  For me it’s wanting to satisfy my Superman complex and swoop in to save someone’s day.   At random.  On a whim.  Just like the act that got me to this point in the first place.  Settling some stranger’s debt, just to see them smile and then walking away without telling them who I am because it’s not about me.  It’s always about them and making someone’s life just a little (or a lot, if you can) better.

And finally, because dreaming is never a bad thing.  Whether it’s about the riches of the lottery or just the general run-of-the-mill fantasy of being able to stop and clear the decks to prepare for the next adventure.  Or perhaps, it’s that thought of making the hell out of someone’s day.  It’s just a break.   And we all need a break sometimes.