Lottery fever has broken. Last night players in North Carolina, Texas and Puerto Rico each won a share of the $564.1 million U.S. Powerball lottery jackpot. Now, hopefully, those in the cubicles surrounding me can find something else to talk about.
I’d like to say I came through this latest round of lottery frenzy unscathed. Then again I’d like to say that Rogaine really works on male pattern baldness. But on both counts that would be a misplaced assertion.
Though I never joined the myriad office pools that cropped up around me (I think I am too greedy to comprehend sharing a jackpot) and I never joined in the never ending conversations about what I would do if I won, I did not make it through the past few days unscathed.
I bought my tickets. I daydreamed. I dreamed big. And what I dreamt about concerns me.
Not that my dreams were as goofy as they were when I was still imbibing. Those were some dangerous fantasies. For many years before I got sober I saw the lottery as the only way to escape drunkenness. I was going to win (never did), go on a ninety day bender (never quite that long but I gave it my best) and then check myself into rehab (never went).
I’ll spare my more innocent readers the details of my imagined ninety-day bender. Suffice it to say, it was not light-hearted PG-13 fun. I doubt I would have survived.
Though my lottery dreams are now debauchery free, I still wonder if I would survive a win. Actually I’d probably live just fine thank you. But, if my dreams are any indication of how I would act, I would drive my loved ones nuts. You see, I may have taken the alcohol out of alcoholism, but I still have the “ism”–that Internal Spiritual Maladjustment.
What lottery fever showed me is that I have an underlying desire to control people. Money is power and I apparently crave the power it affords.
While my cubicle mates talked of bigger houses, faster cars and luxurious vacations, my mind didn’t go there. I am happy with what I have got. But the power to manipulate others, hmmm … that peaked my interest.
Not that my intentions were bad. I may want to be a dictator, but I would be a benign dictator–a Castro-lite, without all those pesky human rights violations. I would gently guide my subjects for their own betterment. On closer examination, however, what I dreamt about made me a poster boy for the type of alcoholic described on pages 60-62 of AA’s Big Book.
You see I was going to use my lottery winnings to mold the lives of my two baby-making son-in-Iaws. I was going to insist they get graduate degrees and then lure them into working for me. Over the years I would use my millions to create business scenarios that would teach them lessons I have found invaluable. I would use these experiences to mold them into little mini-me’s–sans the years of alcoholic drinking. Oh, I would also meddle in my ex-wife’s business for good measure. All this controlling behavior would be for the advancement of others … no Shades of Grey here.
Fortunately, I didn’t win. Instead I got into the Big Book while this fantasy was fresh in mind. The first thing that jumped out was that in writing about how self-centered and controlling we can be Bill W. is quick to point out that many times our motives are good. Mine certainly were.
But then he compares the alcoholic to an actor that wants to run the whole show. (Isn’t that the director’s job? And who is my director?) Said actor is “forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great.”
Ouch. That description struck me to the core.
While my co-workers lamented their loss this morning, I was struck with a profound sense that I need to work the Third Step a little more thoroughly. It’s time to give up the illusion of control and put God, as I understand God, in charge.
It is oft said, in vino veritas–in wine, there is truth. I think the same can be said of intoxicating dreams of unearned millions. So where did your lottery dreams take you.