$5 million

magpie and kenan

Last night we ate with our Monday meal pals. And when I say “ate”, I mean we bounced against that oft-overlooked among the seven deadly sins, gluttony. OOF.

So instead of catching the newest James Bond flick at the late movie, M – in his kindness – gently nudged me out under starry skies and on a few-miles-long walk. So many hills and gulps of good night air couched the ebb and flow of conversation. At one point I asked, “what would you do with $5 million” (because $1 million isn’t what it used to be.)

M wisely spoke of his kids, good reliable cars, retirement, and the chance to learn a little more about how people make life work.

Soon, he asked me what I would do with $5 million.
I wasn’t prepared for the question and parsed it out loud as we walked (as I am wont to do.)

Plunge into a new academic career
Take the kids to Ulm, Altbach, Munich, Berchesgarten, and familiar places high above the treeline in Germany; introduce them to “heimat”

Set aside some to anonymously support Betts & Crock in perpetuity
Become a “Fairy Godmother” with the Manhattan Community Foundation
Secretly support the Wonder Workshop and Richard Pitts’ influence
Set aside some for friends – a pastor or two – to use at their discretion and as they and their circle of influence needs…always anonymously

Oh yeah-retirement and investments
Invest in a tiny home with a garden and the best view of the Flint Hills I can find near enough to Katie so we can keep walking at o-dark-30
Invite my sister, Mimi, to swoop in on our other sis, Deedie (with a flyby to Georgia to visit Kay, Ginger, and the Aunties)
Take my dad skydiving


It’s so easy to see:

$5 million will never make me happy though it may mean I can sign up for more yoga at Orange Sky, skip off for more moseying races with Katie in exotic locales…move from the Hobbit House.

$5 million will not make the cut of “must haves.” After the first $5 million, then you’ll want the next, and perpetual ski vacations, a pony, and more bank in the way of give-a-mouse-a-cookie accumulations.

$5 million did not provide the greatest joys of this short life: Madi and Kenan; Mayeses, M3 and the Monday Night Meal Squad, Sliz, Z & Izzy; adventures, mountains, or learning inter-dependency with all these folks and now M.

Money never gave me trust,
wild giggling fits of joy, or
security. Some of my favorite adventures were absolutely free and found among the shelves of libraries worldwide.

Money bought bread and wine.
One more unmatched chair for the table Jack restored all those years ago.
Time around that table with people that bring Giving Thanks home to heart.

Far be it from me to turn away a cool and legitimate $5 million, but I will not waste my moments now with wishes for “what if.”

Frankly, many of us live close to the bone. We are wise, smart, creative, and funny and live frugally with one eye on the fuel gauge reading “empty.”

We are fortunate if we live in good company.

We are rich under the stars with full bellies on crisp November nights.

Let’s live in real life with Derring Do. Perhaps the question of “what would you do with $5 million” may free up space to draw closer to what we really want to do in this temporary life.

Ask the question. Listen for the answers in your words, pauses, and silence. Ask the question again among the people at your table.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the windfall. Go find your way with what you have where you are now. Today.

Happy Thanksgiving, Pals.


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