Answering powerful questions, No. 5

Looking and thinking ahead, at first i thought the next of “6 Powerful Questions That Will Change Your Life Forever” would be one of the easiest and most fun of them to answer. But if i’m honest, it’s proven more difficult. Not because nothing at all comes to mind, but rather aside from essentially a laundry list of mostly generic thoughts, it began to shed some light on more overarching foibles i’ve struggled with for my whole life. i suppose that is ultimately a good thing though – if these questions are supposed to change my life forever, then it would behoove them to stimulate thoughtful responses.

What could this consternation-causing question be?

Question No. 5: What would i do if i had one billion dollars?


List everything that you would really love to do if you had all the money in the world. Okay, so you would probably travel the world, buy a house or two, and give some money to your family. Then what would you do with your time?

This question helps you to think without limitations. When we are able to remove limitations and boundaries, we can discover what we really want to do.

Dr. Evil

A couple of things right off the bat that spring to mind, the first of which is that my benchmark for a “change the rest of my life” amount of money has long been one million dollars. Shades of Dr. Evil aside, and discussions of that sum’s relative value in the world today, i still think that’s an enormous amount of money. My usual response to dismissive attitudes towards a cool million is to divide that amount by how much a person makes in one year and tell me it’s still chump change.

Sure, if you’re a well-off or modestly successful professional, the impact will be lessened. But even at the height of my yearly income several years ago, it would have taken me roughly 21 years to gross $1 million. Which means, i could have lived at least that long without making any income at the same lifestyle level. And that’s not counting any interest made, investments or simply by wiping the debt slate clean immediately and keeping it that way while living a modest lifestyle.

The second thing that stands out to me about this question is a discrepancy in the wording. The premise is what one would do with $1 billion, but the description says “all the money in the world.” Those are two distinct things, of course. On the other hand, a figure with all those zeroes might as well be all the money in the world to me; it’s hard to wrap my head around getting an ATM receipt and seeing a balance like that. Pretty much everything i could possibly want as a luxury or on a shopping spree would not even make a dent in an amount like that.

To get right down to it though, the very first thing i would do is pay off every bill and debt that i have – even those distant ones i ignored for many years that have since fallen off my credit report due to statutes and abandonment by creditors. i would like there to be no question that i’m in the black.

The people i’m close to in my life, i would do the same for them. Fortunately (?) my circle of closeness is pretty tight so it wouldn’t be too expansive of an expenditure to accomplish this. i’ve read and heard about others in these sorts of situations, like winning the lottery for example or discussions with friends about the possibility of such, who’ve said they wouldn’t feel comfortable straight-up fronting people money like that. They’d arrange it as compensation for some sort of service or goal-meeting task, or would provide things like homes or scholarships instead of forking over a check or whatever. Those ideas have merit, but at least at this moment in time i’d feel okay doling out funds to a small number of people and allowing them to decide what to do with it.

With that stuff out of the way, the world is my oyster so naturally i’d do what everyone else says and travel. i mean, who wouldn’t? As i’ve mentioned in previous posts, being enamored of the wide world would compel me to visit a whole lot of places, as well as return to a few places i’ve been. As the human to my best bud, a ten-year-old tuxedo cat Cosby (named before the media scandal surrounding the comedian, sorry kitty) i wouldn’t want to leave him behind or travel around with him in an airplane cargo hold so i suppose i’d splurge on more accommodating methods of travel with him.

It would be awesome to have a travel companion along as well, like, another human being. But a friend recently pointed out that i’ve always had a need for other people to often be around me, which she saw as a bit of an issue, so maybe i’d go solo (with Cosby). My recent relocation away from my home turf, on my own, has illuminated some of the benefits of being on my own, like opening more opportunities to meet and engage with people while out and about than if i were with someone. On my own, i could go wherever and do whatever i wanted. On the other hand, i do miss the few friends i have and how awesome would it be to embark on a grand adventure together? Although, they have children and families of their own now, so they probably wouldn’t be able to gallivant around the globe with no agenda.

The deeper part of this question, with the preceding few things out of the way, is what would i do with my time, without limitations? Money is a strange thing, in that removing the barriers it creates is really only achieved through extremes. Either you have so much money that the cost of things is not really a concern, or you have absolutely none and the matter becomes irrelevant. i suppose there’s a modicum of majesty in having nothing, like some sort of Buddhist or Hare Krishna or walking the world like Kane on Kung-fu…but the darker side of that is living the homeless life – something i’ve become all-too familiar with seeing here in Austin, Texas.

My instinct in answering this question is to say i’d write more. Do more reporting, profiles on people capture my imagination (my favorite), introspective pieces like this one, travelogues, or even delve back into some fiction projects – both those on the back burner for years and more recent ideas i’ve had.

The fear i have though, is that i wouldn’t. There’s nothing really stopping me from doing any of that now, except a grab bag of excuses. i could say that time is an issue; i have to keep working at my job. But outside of that, instead of binge-watching Arrow, The FlashSilicon Valley or some other distracting entertainment, i could be tapping away at something. Instead of playing a game as escapist entertainment, i could be using my imagination to finish work on one of my own projects. So, in some ways, i am afraid of what i’d do if i were suddenly so flush with money that i had no excuses for being lazy or putting things off.

Another strange shift that’s very recently come over me (like, in the last couple of days) concerns where i’d want to live, given this fantastical financial situation. As recent as the last powerful question i answered, my ideal living situation was NYC. And for certain, that would be one of the places i would spend some time at with my billion-dollar bank account.

But would i live there?

i honestly can’t say for sure right now. Although the appeal of establishing myself in a place different than where i was born and raised has been part of the bedrock of who i am for all of my life, there’s a growing part of me that feels a stronger connection to that place now that i am away doing exactly that. For all of my love-hate relationship with Cleveland that has crested and broken over time, right now at the moment of writing this, i think i would make the city my home in a way that it really has never been before.

Outside of living in the house i grew up in, once i moved out at 18 to go away to college, it ceased to be a place i envisioned settling down in. That’s not to say i didn’t live there, or go away and come back numerous times, but my eye was always looking ahead to getting away from there again. There were one or two dalliances with buying a home over the last couple of decades, but those were brief and half-hearted.

The words of several friends now echo in my mind, that in a lottery-winning scenario, they would own a home in Northeast Ohio and if the desire to see other places arose, simply take trips there. It is only now that i’ve really made a big move on my own that i can see the value in that perspective. With $1 billion budget, my idea of a dream abode would not be very challenging at all to establish there. And one of my biggest gripes about the area – the weather – would be much more tolerable. Specifically, the winter cold and snow would be a lot more manageable with, say, a garage to park in, a decent car to park in said garage, and similarly practical solutions.

As to where in the area i might live, despite my shyness and general dislike for people, i would likely get myself a place in the heart of downtown Cleveland. A nice place in a more rural setting does sound appealing, maybe even a decked-out Airstream due to my fondness for small living spaces. But i do so love high-rise living, and with $1 billion i’m pretty sure i could afford the penthouse or top floor suite with a commanding view of Lake Erie to the north and both the east- and west-sides of Cleveland all around. That would be pretty dope.

Now, what i’d do all day from this mythical place? Well, outside of whimsical traveling and keeping up with my shows, i would hope that i would work more. And yes, i mean the aforementioned avenues of writing. i actually think it would be cool to “work” for a few different places, and since i wouldn’t be dependent on a paycheck, i would honestly just offer myself as a sort of unpaid intern for the sorts of dream jobs i wish i had now anyway.

What sorts of jobs? That’s easy – all the stuff i already enjoy doing! It would be amazing to work with the folks at Wizards of the Coast on Dungeons & Dragons stuff, or something related to comics or the television shows they’ve inspired. Or maybe i could just sit-in to observe the people i admire while they do their thing and write about it to share right here.

So, if you read this far, you might be a little disappointed by the lack of any outrageous ideas on what i would do with $1 billion. At the end of the day, i guess i’m not really that exciting of a person. i don’t have aspirations to fund Martian terraforming, solve the world’s problems, build an art collection or do philanthropy work.

i’m just a boring Midwestern guy whose introspection and experiences in life continuously provide me with befuddlement about my own self, and who likes to write.

How about you? i’m guessing you can think of much more elaborate and exciting uses for $1 billion. Or maybe you’re as humdrum as me?

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