I’m developing a theory that the true test of a person’s purpose in life is to ask them what they would do if they won the lottery. The really big who-could-possibly-spend-that-much-in-one-lifetime lottery. Let them get past the parts where they would travel, buy lots of neat stuff, take care of their families, and so on. Get past all the standard lottery winner stuff. Ask them what they would do once that’s all done and the novelty’s off. What would they do with the rest of their lives if they had such ability, such financial freedom to do so?
If I were the one fortunate enough to have all the numbers come up, of course I would do the standard stuff. I would travel everywhere. I’d make sure my family was all set. I’d take college classes in interesting subjects that have nothing to do with any sort of overarching goal—anthropology, filmmaking, sociology, art. Just for fun.
And I would write. I wouldn’t have to worry about making a living, and I could just write stories, as much as I wanted to.
The problem with that, though, is that I seem to write my best when I’m under pressure, when I’m doing something useful. That’s the key, there. I can’t just be keeping myself busy; I have to have an actual focus, something helpful and useful I’m trying to do that will take the random bits of poetry and prose which float around in my brain and refine them into some sort of cohesive whole. If I had so many gifts, and didn’t find a way to help others, I’d probably never be able to write anything proper again. It’s just the strange way my brain, heart, and soul seem to be hooked together, that my writing ability is linked in some strange way to my sense of purpose.
So what would I do?
If I could, if I had these sorts of nearly-unlimited funds, I think what I would do is try to get medical treatment for people who couldn’t afford it. I would start clinics in inner cities and have mobile clinics in poor rural areas. Free or reduced cost services. I would spend my time trying to get grants (because with a project of this scope, even lottery winnings don’t last forever), trying to get health care workers to volunteer to help, trying to get the word out to the people who needed services that there really is help for them. I would deal with public relations, regulations, administration, and education. And then if I had any time left, I would go into the clinics myself. I would help change bandages or hold children getting booster shots, or hold the hands of someone who was sick and scared. I would listen to someone's story, or carefully and gently wipe away the tears of a hurt child. I would try to help them feel safe and cared for.
It is in this, the human face of what I would do if I could, that I would find my inspiration. My heart would be full, and the poetry would flow like water.