Riches Beyond Counting

A true story from about five years ago...

(A sort-of follow up to the Heroic Story "The Ticket" that I wrote about a year previously.)


On New Year's Eve, we had dinner at my in-laws' place. During the evening news, they read out the winning numbers of the TAKARAKUJI national lottery that is held every couple of months here in Japan, with a top prize of 200 million yen at the end of every year, which is about 2 million dollars.

My mother in law asked me what I would do if I were to win that kind of money. I didn't give an answer immediately, as I was thinking about what I would do. Obviously the money would be useful, as we have a mortgage to pay off, and will probably need a new car next year when our second child is born, (and that's surely going to cost money!) I was pondering whether it would be better to invest the money and use what interest we earned on it to supplement my income, or to spend it now to secure our financial future, by clearing off our mortgage and buying the new car and other investments we will surely face. Either way, I had no desire to spend it on luxury items or extravagance, so I said that I didn't know what I would do with it.

My mother in law smiled and said that my lack of an answer meant that I was lucky. The fact that I didn't have an answer to give straight back to her meant that there was nothing I was really lacking in life. The fact that I didn't have any specific idea about what I would do with a sudden windfall meant that I was actually quite happy and satisfied with what I had now, and she thought that that was a wonderful thing. She wished that she could have given the same answer, but she already knew what she would do with a prize like that.

With that one simple comment she made me realize that I really was happy with what I have now. With a growing, healthy family, and a stable and challenging career, I don't need to win a lottery to feel lucky. With all the blessings I have, and the good things that have happened to me in my life, I don't need a sudden windfall to know that I have riches beyond counting. For me this holiday season, that realization was the greatest gift of all.

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