Winning the Lottery: albuquerque photographer

I stopped off at the gas station last night and, rather than pay at the pump, I headed inside to get something to drink. I glanced over at the $400 million PowerBall sign in the window and thought, “Man, can you imagine?”

I grabbed my iced tea and as I put it down on the counter, the sweet little woman behind the counter asked if I’d like to buy a PowerBall ticket. Now, I don’t buy lottery tickets. Not that I have anything against them, but I am simply never in a place to buy them; I’m usually outside at the pump, going, “Hurry..hurry…hurry…” in between sessions.

But last night was different, so I paid my $4, went home, and declared to my wife that I bought PowerBall tickets; I told her I felt lucky. She responded by laughing and saying no one buys lottery tickets who does NOT feel lucky. Good point.

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And, because you did not hear on the news this morning: “Albuquerque Photographer Wins PowerBall” you’ve probably guessed I didn’t win. Not even close. I think I got one number and that was it. But it got me thinking why we buy lottery tickets to begin with. In New Mexico,a portion of those lottery dollars go to Legislative Lottery Scholarships, paying 100% of tuition at more than 20 public colleges, junior colleges and universities in New Mexico, which is all a Good Thing, but what compels US to buy them?

The hope of winning a lot of money, of course.

And having won, are we happier? Well, probably at first, as we pay off bills and take vacations; maybe buy a new car. Or five of them. But what about when the newness wears off? What then? Studies have shown that, in a nutshell, if you weren’t happy before winning the lottery, odds are good that once the novelty of having money has worn off, you will resume your unhappiness.

Because what truly makes for happiness can not be bought or sold. It is being loved and loving in return; doing the work you love every day, appreciating the small things, maintaining perspective. And, for guys like me, it’s taking pictures of people. Connecting with clients. Taking a family, a high school senior, a wedding, and creating something people love and are excited about. A photograph they will have the rest of their life of the people who mean the most to them.

So, as much as I would have liked to have had at least a few of those winning PowerBall numbers, it doesn’t matter. I will kiss my family goodbye as I head out the door, enter my studio, pick up my camera, begin my day and know that, in spite of having pretty much all the wrong numbers, I really DID win the lottery.