Friday, June 4, 2010


Have you a patron saint, and an angel?
Thank you. Even though the nights are never dangerous,
I have one of everything.

Thomas Merton


She was getting angry. It was one of those casual conversations that had run right off the rails.

The problem with you is you're happy with what you have!

I laughed. I knew this was bad. I knew it would make her angrier but I couldn't help it. She was absolutely right, of course. I just would not have put it that way.

And that's a problem because...
Oh, nevermind.

It all began when we drove past the Powerball billboard. The jackpot was getting up there, somewhere near $200 million. Even though you only take home about half of that, it's still a tidy sum. It started innocently enough: a suggestion that we stop for a quick-pick on the way home. We aren't too big on the lottery, since the odds of actually winning the jackpot fall somewhere between being struck by a meteorite and being abducted by aliens. The volunteer tax program, I call it. Still, without a ticket the odds are exactly zero. So far, so good.

Sure, why not?

Inevitably, we drifted into the world of dreams.

If we won, what would you do with the money?
Well, first I'd pay off the house...
WHAT?!? You'd still want to live here?!?

Well, actually, I would. At the very least, I wouldn't be in any rush to move. I like our house. I think I would still like it with a big bank account. It may be unspectacular but it's home. Sure, I might spend a little money on it, maybe even hire people to do some work instead of doing it myself. Maybe. Why move just because you can?

Well, you could still buy that beach house you've always wanted...

She wasn't having it.

But you'd still want to live here?!?
I think so.
(sigh) Well, what about the kids?
What about them?
Would you want to send them to different schools?

I tried to avoid an outright no.

Well, I'd have to think about that.

It went downhill from there. There we were, almost fighting over money that we didn't have and probably never will.

The problem with you is you're happy with what you have!

Is that a problem?


I was reminded of the old joke:

A man comes home and says "Honey, I won the lottery! Pack your bags!"
His wife runs upstairs and quickly packs.
She comes down and says "I'm all packed.
Where are we going?"
"Nowhere. Get out."

Don't get me wrong. I love my wife. For one thing, she puts up with me: a truly redeeming quality, I think. Still, most of us have thought at one time or another: if only I won the lottery.... Now part of me thinks, well, just give me the $100 million and we'll work things out after. We all should have such "problems." I'm not so sure, though.

I have to wonder: would our marriage survive winning the lottery? My honest answer could only be maybe. It would certainly change things. The question is, how? Perhaps some things are better left unchanged. It's true, we could do with a little extra sometimes, but we usually have enough.

Isn't that enough?


I was not blessed with great ambition. I was blessed with the ability to make do. I was not blessed with great wealth. I was blessed with enough. It has been that way all my life. There has rarely been extra. There has usually been enough.

This morning, my car wouldn't start. In ten years, it has failed me twice. Both times it was in my driveway on a day when it didn't really matter that much. I could complain, I suppose, but I won't. It seems good enough.

At one point, it seemed to me that every time I came into a little extra money, through some overtime or side work, I also came into a surprise bill in almost the same amount. It used to irritate me. Why can't I seem to get ahead? I think it was a little lesson in humility. Why be ungrateful? You asked for your daily bread. Here it is. Isn't that enough?

The problem with you is you're happy with what you have!

That may be true, but I don't think it's a problem. I may not have everything I want, but I have everything I need, and a lot more besides. Why be ungrateful?

Have you a patron saint, and an angel? Thank you. I have one of everything.

That is enough.

Respectfully Yours,



Andy said...

Excellent piece, Cricket! Very well done.

My wife of 31 years and I have often wondered how drastically our lives would change (even with a paltry 5 or 6 million).

Though, it never crossed my mind to wonder whether our marriage would be different...or not survive it. I suppose it would be different.

Good food for thought. BTW, if I win on Saturday night (yes, I did pay my "Dummy Tax" this week), I'll be happy to donate a large sum to the charity of your choice. ;)

lime said...

my prayer since i have been a college student has been taken from proverbs where it says (and this is my paraphrase)

lord, let me not become poor and thus tempted to break your commands by stealing.

let me not become wealthy and be tempted to forsake you you because of pride.

give me my daily bread and let me be thankful.

that's enough.

excellent piece.

GreenJello said...

I, too, am thankful that I have enough. I even have more than enough, so that I may share with others who are struggling to reach enough.

How blessed am I!

Thumbelina said...

For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things. ~ 1 Timothy ch 6, vv 7-8.

I too have enough.
Excellent piece.

Hilary said...

I so love the way you think. I can also understand your wife dreaming about something new and different because she can. Travel would fulfill that for me but I'd still want my place to come home to.

Land of shimp said...

What an interesting post, Cricket.

I don't have a patron saint, Cricket, I don't think that will surprise you much!

However, I think the gap between what you are talking about, and what your wife is expressing is that when talking about the issue of contentment, you're equating it with material goods. It's the way the question is framed, "Do you want more stuff?" "I'm personally content...with the stuff I have." but the stuff isn't really the issue, contentment is.

For some people the concept of being "content" sounds negative. As if you aren't willing to try. For others it sounds right, and peaceful. Your wife would like more stuff, but is likely emotionally content, just as you are.

The gap between what your expressing seems larger than it is, because it's framed around material goods. Could you still be content surrounded by more? Almost certainly, because it isn't attached to stuff. Less, or more, the internal mechanism is the same.

Emotionally content, and materially content aren't mutually exclusive things.

My husband and I have had less, and then had more, but the feeling of contentment with each other remains the same, and I mean that in a good way. Would your marriage survive with more stuff? I bet it could, and would, should it ever arise because what keeps you together is not "stuff". More, or less and the bond is still there.

You could likely be just as happy in a mansion, as in a modest home, because your sense of happiness isn't reliant on stuff, either in the lack of it, or in the excess of it.

That's my guess, at least. In trying to talk about what is actually a core feeling within you, what I saw you expressing was that it isn't dependent on stuff. What your wife was expressing was that more stuff would be nice. There isn't such a huge gap in those mindsets, it all depends on how the question is framed.

"What more would you want?" was answered with, "No, really, I'm good with what I have." but the gap exists in the focus. You'd still be you, and have that inner feeling of peace, because from all that I understand about you, Cricket, your contentment is tied to God, and other non-stuff related things :-)

Present in a shack, or a mansion.

That's all just a guess on my part. Just my honest response to "The problem with you is..." that your choice of focus in what you were asking had a gap in it. Ask your wife if she's emotionally happy, but wants more stuff.

She'd likely say, "Yes." right? Then ask yourself, would you still be happy when surrounded by more stuff, and since you've expressed contentment with material goods as they are, and a sense of rightness not reliant on stuff? The answer is still likely, "Yes".

Cricket: My happiness and contentment has little to do with stuff.

Cricket's wife: But I wouldn't mind more stuff. In fact, more stuff sounds nice to me.

Really, there isn't as big a gap in that unless what your wife is actually saying is, "I'm not emotionally content, or happy because I don't have this stuff." and I really don't think that's what she was saying.

Maybe try asking her.

Ananda girl said...

I think it is wonderful that you are happy with what you have. It makes for a much more satisfying life.

Most of my lottery plans end up the same way... pay off my bills, makes sure my kids are cared for, college money and what I would like to do for those people who have helped me over the years.

I think I really have no idea what to do with a huge sum of money... but I'd like to try.

Suldog said...

I'm of fairly much the same state of mind, and it does sometimes piss off MY WIFE, so I can dig where you're coming from. I'm positive our marriage would survive a sudden cash windfall, though. That's because I'd let her spend most of it on whatever she felt she needed. I only need little stuff to keep me happy - a good book, something fun to snack on, etc.

My Dad always told me that we (Sullivans) would never hit the lottery, but we also would never starve. I've found that to be amazingly true, in both respects, thus far. And, like you, whenever I have been blessed with some sort of unexpected surplus, it has always found an emergency use immediately. I prefer to think that God pre-funds my small disasters.

Brian Miller said...

great post...i find myself in that category as well...kinda happy where i am...i would like to move though, but that is a much longer would not take winning the lottery but a whole other miracle...

thanks for stopping in today. smiles.

Friko said...

cricket, I love yo.. , that is, I love this rambling tale that either goes anywhere nor comes from anywhere but is totally, gloriously, of the moment.
You stick to your guns, man.

just for this, I am going to follow you. For now, anyway. You might disappoint me in the future.

Cricket said...

Friko - Hello again. Thank you (I think) and welcome to Cricket and Porcupine. I will try my best not to disappoint you, but brace yourself all the same.