When you buy a raffle ticket, you’re often told that you need not be present to win. Few people want to wait around for the ticket number to be called — we have to dash out to another event or weed whack the yard, or something else vastly more important such as taking a nap in front of the television while waiting for the call that we’ve won an exotic vacation for two or a new car.
We don’t want to waste our time waiting to find out that we haven’t won when we could be using our time more productively. We don’t want to reveal our hopes — better to not have any and be surprised — than to hang around waiting and have them dashed. This is multi-tasking at its finest — your sleep-deprived self catching a few z’s on the couch while your winning ticket works its way into the hands of the ticket picker. Maybe you’ve also turned on the dishwasher and clothes dryer at the same time so now you’re accomplishing four tasks.
It’s a lovely fantasy, winning while napping, but I don’t actually know anyone who won something wonderful when they weren’t present. I might not even know very many people who won a car or vacation when they were present. Maybe I should stop hanging up on that guy who keeps calling to tell us that we’ve won a three-night cruise to Mexico.
If you did win, would you even believe the person who called to tell you of your good fortune, having forgotten that you ever bought a ticket? Does anyone ever get that call? You never seem to find out just who did win the trip, the car or the one million dollar sweepstakes. Maybe there really wasn’t anything to win and the rafflers counted on everyone not being present so they wouldn’t actually have to present a prize. If you don’t show up, how would you know?
Does the Prize Patrol ever really give actual money to a housewife from Oklahoma along with the balloons, bouquets of roses and the five-foot check for a million dollars, or is it just a ruse? The colossal check and the screamingly excited winner sure makes for good television.
Most of us forget our possible winning ticket, having gone on to other things. Months later, when half of the ticket surfaces in the laundry or the pocket of a jacket rarely worn, you might wonder who won, but it’s too late to find out.
I think you should be present to win — fully and completely present with all your hopeful wishes and close-held dreams in your throat, waiting for your ticket to be called and fully prepared to claim your prize. Your energy and focus can influence what happens in your life, but only if you are present to receive it, not occupied with “other things” or so far in the future that the present seems like the past when you’re recalled to it.
People spend a lot of time in the future. Listening to someone speak, we’re rehearsing what we’re going to say next. Driving down the road, we think ahead to all the tasks that need to be completed in the next hour, the next day, even the next week. “Next” has become a more important word than “done.”
Maybe you don’t need to show up to win the vacation or the car, but you do need to show up, fully participating in your own life as it unfolds, being part of what is happening at the moment instead of projecting yourself into the future and forgetting that you might hold the winning ticket, right here and now.
Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly.