Imagine, if you will, that you buy a lottery ticket and you win. After taxes the payoff is $2 million. Not an exorbitant amount by today’s standards, but still quite a lot of money for the average paycheck to paycheck person. For some it may be what could be described as Fuck You Money, easily enough for most people to retire on very comfortably.
How would this newfound fortune change your life? How would it change your family and your friend’s dealing with you? Would they be happy for you? Maybe jealous? Would you be able to manage the changes in your daily routine? If you were accustomed to one lifestyle and then switched to a more affluent lifestyle would it be a good change? Or would you become someone else?
Now lets say you could possibly win $100 million if you made an almost certain bet. There were still some risks involved, but nothing that would threaten your life in the short term. How would winning this kind of money reflect on your daily routine? Would it be different than your winning $2 million? Money would cease to be an object for you for the rest of your life and likely the lives of your children, maybe even grandchildren and all you really had to do was make a smart bet that you believed would pay off.
What if you only won $1 million or $500,000, but you were only making $36,000 a year and scraping by the best you could? Again, all you have to do is look for the best opportunity to make a short term sacrifice and the money would be yours. Would you compromise your ‘principles’ (assuming you have any) temporarily to change your life in the long term more significantly?
Imagine you had a Golden Ticket that had a potential to win you $70,000 per year or if you played things right it had the potential to earn you $10 million per year if you were wise enough to capitalize on it. How would that change your outlook on life?
What rationales would that prompt you to in order to reconcile that other people might not have the same potential for cashing in –without really earning it – that you do?
Here’s your Ticket
Okay, got that in your head now? Good. Now imagine that you’re given this Golden Ticket at the tender age of 12 years old. It’s handed to you and you’re told, “Keep this ticket with you forever. You can redeem it for more money while you’re young, but the longer you hold on to it the less it will be worth. Even still, it should be valuable for most of your life if you can manage to hold on to it.” And even after you’ve cashed the ticket in you can still retain it for a time, because some people have been able to trade one prize for a larger one by taking the ticket back and redeeming it for a better prize later.
Now you begin to believe that you deserve the biggest prize because, well, you’ve been deprived of things. You’re special; special enough to know you deserve the very best after having been deprived of these things as one of a long line of people who’ve also been deprived of things – the best things – or so they’ve told you.
You could always earn some money and get the things you and your people have never been able to reliably get, at least, again, that’s what they’ve told you. You have a lot of personal potential, you’re independent, you have a lot of respectable strengths, so you know you could always merit the things you deserve. But you still have this Golden Ticket in your hand, why wouldn’t you use it? You could earn some money, maybe a lot, but it will never be as reliable or as much as the money the Golden Ticket could net you – if you know just when to redeem it.
All that said, there are going to be a few stipulations to this lottery, but still, they’re not as steep when you compare them to having to actually earn a similar prize.
The first stipulation: You must stay physically fit. In fact, the better you look the better your potential prize could be. As you age this potential decays, but even still, you occasionally see some people cash out their ticket for great prizes despite their age. They just had to apply themselves more in the gym to get it.
The second stipulation: You must be agreeable, accommodating, even a bit flirty. You must put forward the impression that you are someone who genuinely deserves the best prize that the ticket might offer to a special person like you. You must give the perception that the experience of you deserves the highest potential prize imaginable.
The third stipulation: You must position yourself in social situations where the potential for the biggest payout for your ticket can be maximized. Sometimes, not always, but often these settings might make you uncomfortable, but hey, you wanted to make the most of the ticket, right? This stipulation really isn’t all that discomforting when you realize that once you have cashed in your ticket you’ll be the one deciding where you live and who you’ll choose to associate with anyway. At least that’s what the lottery organizers would have you believe.
There are a few more minor stipulations, but, for all of this, you still deserve the biggest prize that opportunity might bring your way. So, while the best thing would be for you to stay in shape and be ready for a big prize, the people playing the same lottery as you – most with the same potential – will tell you none of this really matters. They insist that you just being you is enough for you to win a big prize. Or it should be.
It’s almost as if they want you to believe that you can dismiss all the stipulations and still make out pretty good. In fact they praise you for going against the stipulations. They complain about how unfair these rules are and that for people as deprived as themselves, and for as long as they and their predecessors have been deprived, they should simply be given the highest, best and most secure forms of the prize – all irrespective of the very minimal stipulations as they are.
This is the Golden Ticket! How dare anyone place prerequisites on us to get the prizes we so thoroughly deserve. How dare anyone make us earn our birthright. But for all this discontent, the rules of the game still apply, and the people who embrace and master the stipulations largely seem to get the biggest and best prizes. And the ones complaining about the stipulations only seem to drag down the people with the same Golden Ticket, and their prizes are usually nothing compared to the people who take the stipulations to heart.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, there is one last detail of this lottery to consider. In order to keep the biggest and best prizes you have to sign a very loose and totally non-binding contract that only benefits you and ensures you will continue to be paid dividends should you decide to renege on the agreement and take your ticket back to use it again. The contract can be broken by you at any time, and even when you do you’ll still receive a substantial percentage of your original prize in monthly installments and usually for the rest of of your life.
Still, your signing this contract will limit your capacity to play this lottery in the future. If you see the potential for a better prize after you’ve signed the contract of limitations you’ll be less able to capitalize on it. However, the way that the contract is written it doesn’t necessarily exclude you from winning and even bigger prize should the opportunity arise. Your ticket reserves the right to be redeemed for other prizes if you make some wise bets.
So, at the end here, we get to the larger point of this metaphor; how would this ticket change the way you live your life? How would it influence your future decisions? How would the ticket affect your personal relationships with your best friends, some of whom have tickets themselves? How would the subconscious knowledge of the ticket alter your dealings with a husband, a wife, the children you may have or your immediate family?
Would the ticket define who you will become in life?