In order to avoid as much holiday traffic as possible, I took the country-road route, as much as possible, back to Austin. The lack of traffic let my mind wander as I drove through pastoral landscapes. While taking in the beauty of undeveloped land, I merged fantasies of that landscape with the news that no one won the previous Powerball Lottery drawing. What would I do if I won $425+ million dollars?
All my thoughts of luxurious, hedonistic living kept returning to trucks, tractors, and cows. If I won the lottery I would buy a ranch and spend the rest of my life working on it. As much as my mind could imagine, all I wanted was land, and cows, and big motorized toys. The more I thought about it, the nicer it sounded.
I could work in the pasture all day letting my mind wander as it would, then come home in the evening and write. My best writing always comes following physical labor. Phrases and sentences simmer in the thought soup that bubbles away while my body labors at tasks that do not require much mental attention. Particularly good ones I jot down as they occur; others, I let refine.
Of course, I love my career in education, so it would be hard for me to leave the students behind. With the lottery money, I would not really have to work for pay. I could just go into the local school and teach writing workshops. I enjoyed teaching writing much more than literature anyway. Experiencing the creativity of others is as rewarding as coming across my own perfect phrase to end the paragraph being composed.
On my trip to see my family I listened to a series of stories based on Americans in the artist colony of Paris in the early parts of the twentieth century. Thoughts of those stories expanded my ranch vision. Beyond baling hay and raising cattle, I would host parties. With $425 million I could afford some guest quarters. They always had room for passers-by on Bonanza: I surely could too. The question I could not resolve was, “extra rooms in the big house, or separate guest houses?”
I like my privacy. I will probably go with separate guest houses.
And if my ranch is in Texas, I will need a Cadillac for driving to the big city so I can leave my truck out on the ranch.
The more I considered the implications, the more I realized that winning the lottery is expensive. I do not know if I want to spend $2 on a ticket or not.