If I Had A Million Dollars

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Do you ever play that game with your friends where you pretend that one day a million dollars, or ten million dollars, or any unheardofly awesome amount of money just showed up in your bank account and then you all list the things you’d do with it?  Its a good game, especially for long car rides and slow moving amusement park lines.  Everyones got that one friend who goes all Samir from Office Space and gets practical:  “You know what I would do if I had a million dollars? I would invest half of it in low risk mutual funds and then take the other half over to my friend Asadulah who works in securities…”  Really sucks the fun right out of it.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this for some reason the last couple of days and I’ve decided that more than any one thing, or any amount of things, what I would be most happy about finding that kind of money in my checking account is the freedom I would have to do things I really wanted.  For instance, sometime before I die, and it should probably be done before I develop some really impressive bunions, I want to hike the John Muir trail, which starts in Yosemite and ends 218 miles later at Mt. Whitney.  How great would that be?  Jen and I hiking through the beautiful California Sierra’s, taking in the scenery, enjoying the fresh mountain air, not a care in the world.  Except for the bears obviously.  Of course, this isn’t something you do in a weekend.  I’d need a good solid month, at least, for the actual trek and it would probably be a good idea to do a few shorter practice hikes to gear up for it.  Well, at this stage in the game its pretty tough to block out a twelfth of a year or more just to go hiking.  But if I had a million dollars…

I’ve gone on a few missions trips in my time.  Several times to Mexico and once to Ecuador.  I would love to be able to do a short-term mission trip every year.  Not only is it great to get to see and experience another part of the world, but to do so while working for the Lord and helping others is the best possible scenario.  Its an eye-opening and rewarding experience to meet and work with other Christians that don’t look or talk like you.  It reminds you that the Body of Christ is not a lily-white, suburbanite.  But trips like this take time and money not always readily available.  I had a lot of very generous help from folks in my church that enabled me to go to Ecuador last year, but I only have so much vacation time to spend.  If I weren’t having a baby this winter, there was a chance I could have gone to China on a Bible smuggling mission…if I could come up with the time and money.  Those are big ifs.  But if I had a million dollars… 

A couple years ago Master Card was running a series of their “Priceless” commercials during baseball season that followed two guys on a summer long trip to visit every ball park in the majors.  I can think of precious few adventures I would rather undertake than that.  How awesome would that be?  I’ve been to three major league stadiums in my life.  Only twenty-seven more to go.  Of course for that to happen I would have to be able to have a good chunk of the summer off plus the financial resources to fly all over the country, buy tickets, and shell out the $300 for a hot dog and soda.  And I’d just have to get a souvenir from each stadium.  At my current level on the pay scale this just isn’t a reality.  But if I had a million dollars…

Being the history nerd that I am, I really enjoy getting up close and personal with places where history actually occurred.  Its great to read about the Battle of Getteysburg, but to actually stand on the battlefield and see what Joshua Chamberlain and Robert E. Lee saw would enhance it exponentially, at least for me.  Or what would it be like to stand on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, looking up at those bluffs from the sand and trying to imagine what it must have been like to see the muzzle flashes of machine guns aimed directly at you?  They have tours available both in the United States and in Europe that take you to the great battlefields and sites where these historic events took place.  Most of them start at about $4,000 a person, plus airfare to the starting point.  I suppose Jen and I could sell one or both of our cars to come up with the money, but I don’t think the bus system is too reliable in this county.  But if I had a million dollars…

OK, so these things I’ve mentioned cost a significant amount of money to accomplish.  How about something cheap?  I like to read.  I used to hate it, now I love it.  I don’t think I read half the required reading in high school (and still managed a 2.95 GPA) so now I’m making up for lost time.  Reading is the best way to learn most anything.  The kinds of things I like to read are educational; histories, biographies, a little theology, how-to’s of hobbies I enjoy, and recently I’ve started to pick up more of the so-called classic literature, mostly modern at this point, I managed to avoid in school.  So its not like I’d be sitting around all day reading Spiderman comics.  But reading takes time.  Books aren’t expensive (especially through the History Book Club) but the cost to me is in time.  I’m no speed reader.  It takes me a while.  Have you noticed how long that Dean Acheson book has been in my sidebar?  And I’m not even half-way through!  I would love to be able to say on any given day, “You know, I think today I’ll just read all day.”  I don’t think my boss, though a really good guy, would be too keen on that.  But if I had a million dollars…

There’s list upon list of things I would rather do than spend eight hours a day, forty hours a week, one hundred and sixty hours a month at a job, as I’m sure we all have.  From spending more time taking pictures, moving and still, to spending time with Jen and Jackson on a cross-country road trip on Route 66, to having the time to finish all the projects around the house, that’s what my million dollars would buy me.  I’m reasonably content with the stuff that I already have, though there are times when I think it would be nice to have that latest gadget.  But now I want those experiences.  The stuff that can’t be lost in a fire.  That’s one of the reasons I’m so looking forward to fatherhood.  I can’t wait to make memories with that kid.  Don’t misunderstand, I’ve been blessed beyond measure already, with the best family I could ask for, and a wife who means more to me than my own life, and any experience I have wouldn’t be worth having if she wasn’t by my side.  I have a good job, a government job no less, that I like, not love, but like.  So I have no real complaints, just a wish.

Teddy Roosevelt advocated living what he called “the strenuous life” and more than maybe anyone, or at least any politician, he walked his talk.  From Assistant Secretary of the Navy, to the Spanish-American War, to riding the western frontier, to the Presidency, to safari’s in Africa, to floating down the Amazon River, T.R. experienced just about everything there was to experience, save perhaps the life of a pauper.  While I don’t know if strenuous is exactly what I’m looking for, the freedom to have the option sure would be nice.

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3 thoughts on “If I Had A Million Dollars

  1. I’ve often played this game, and I agree with you. It’s not the things but the freedom that money buys. I would love to travel. I’ve been trying to leave Bedford Falls for as long as I can remember, it just never seems to happen. I million or two would certainly help.

    Once you accept that freedom is what you want more than things, you can start being content with the joys and freedoms you already have. Even if you can’t see Paris or London this year.

  2. Rebecca

    That is a fun game to play, but the problem is that the money alwas runs out too quickly, even playing the game. For instance, I would love to move to CA but almost $1 million would be gone if I tried to get our same home and lot in CA. that we have here. :) What fun is it to spend $1 millionon a house? Of course you could argue that we are really paying $1 milion for the weather.

  3. You’re right, Rebecca, it does always run out too quick. I guess Rockefeller was right. When asked how much money was enough, he replied, “Just a little bit more.”

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