If you are like millions of others in our country, you reached into your pocket and found two dollars and bought a lottery ticket when the prize reached $1.6 billion. A billion with a CAPITAL “B.” I don’t know about you, but I am not sure if I could even write 1.6 billion in numerical numbers. How many zeros would you place behind the 1,6??,???,???. I asked people if they knew how many zeros were in a billion. No one got it right the first time, including me. The correct answer … nine. That’s why most people simply write, one billion or use a number in front of the word, billion. Three ways you can write a number that we were not likely to have in cash money. The fact is, we are unlikely to ever have a billion of anything, except …
You do have over a billion cells in your body. Infact, there are an estimated 100 trillion cells in the average body. Scientists can only estimate the number, because no one has ever counted that high. Can’t you just see some old scientist sitting in a darkened lab, looking through a microscope and saying to himself, “Seven trillion, one-hundred billion, forty-eight million and . . . ” Just then another scientist pops in and says “Hey William, I got eight dollars and seventy-five cents; you want to go half on a pizza?” The old scientist sighed deeply and shook his head as he looks again into the microscope and says, “One, two”
I find it strange that people seem to ignore the lottery when it is only a pitiful small amount. You know, just a mere $40 million dollars. Now, that the $1.6 billion dollars has been won by three people, it will reset and no one seems to be talking about it today. Long lines seen on TV of people waiting hours to purchase tickets, have vanished. I guess $40 million is just boring pocket change, not big enough to spend $2.00 for a chance at such a cheap dream. At least, that’s how it seems, so small and unexciting when it is compared to last week’s mega-dream filled billion dollar lottery.
Still, if you were to win the lottery at a mere $40 million, your life would be changed forever. And just think what would happen to your life if you had won $1.6 billion. I know, the first thing you would do is quit your job. That seems to be the first thing most people would do. After that your life is no longer yours. You will quickly find out how many distant relatives and old friends that suddenly come out of the woodwork.
Why the difference in people’s attitude when the lottery prize grows from mere millions to a BILLION POINT SIX? I’m guessing that when the prize is only in the millions, it is not large enough to create mega-dreams. A puny check worth only $40 million can’t bring on day-dreams? You know the kind where you sit and stare, thinking of a vacation home in the Caribbean. I tend to think it may not be so much about the amount of money as it is the hidden desire inside each of us to say, “What if I had that money.” A billion dollar prize radiates dreams it shares with each of us. In turn, we share those dreams with those around us. Sharing a mere $40 million dream is a waste of time.
I wondered where the word billion came from. Did some great scholar from ancient Greece discover the word? The Grecians had some of the finest mathematicians that ever lived even without hand held calculators.
Well the truth is, it was first used in the 16th century. Someone removed the “m” from million and added “bi”, which means 2 or the second power of a million. That was considered the long scale definition. Later, in the 17th century, the French changed it to a short-scale definition. What does that mean? Well, they used only three zeros after each step rather than six zeros. Clear as mud, right? However it is written, or said, it represents a lot of anything. I have to wonder in the 16th century why would the French even need the word billion. The world population was only 600 million. No country had the technology to print enough money to justify having the word in the vocabulary. And Donald Trump was not yet around to brag about being one … a billionaire.
Whatever the reason, it was included into the world’s language along with trillion, quadrillion and all the “illions” that come after that. Do you know, if you started today counting and spoke three numbers a second you would not finish counting to a billion until the year 2111!
It seems to me people began dreaming when the prize reached $300 million in lottery winnings. Before that, it was still just pocket change. When it reached the billion dollar amount people began sharing their dreams. How many times during the lottery frenzy over the last few weeks have you heard people talking about what they would do if they won? People smiled and laughed as they compared $2.00 dreams.
With all the dreaming, people understood their odds were hundreds of millions to one. It is a dream in which we can hope for “What if” to come true. If we look back at our past and say, “What if”, we know the odds of changing the past is impossible. But, if we say, “What if I win?” then the paper ticket we hold in our hand becomes the possible key to unlock our dreams. As the balls dropped, each of us hoped the numbers chosen became our dreams and it only cost $2.00.
Mary and I spent our $2.00 and we talked about how we would make our family rich and happy. We talked how we would try and make things better in the community around us. We also talked about how winning would take the life we have away in an instant of time. But all that too is now just part of the dream that will never be. That is, until the next time when the lottery grows big enough and I’ll say, “What if I pay $2.00 and dream of winning, Through the Lens.”