Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What Would You Do with 28 Million Dollars?

What would you do with $28 million free and clear… and nobody knows you have it yet? Meaning you get to decide exactly what you want to do with the money first before having to please or take care of anyone else. Unless, of course, that’s part of what you want to do. But first and foremost, what do you want to do? How is that going to change your life? And is it going to change you?

For example, today I’m pretty obsessed with finding a job and/or a good way to do what I love and make enough money in some other way. For example, a business that makes a lot more money. Or getting grants to fund projects. That kind of thing.

So, the first thing that happens with $28 million is that set of concerns GOES AWAY.

Oh wow. Do I even know what I would want to be doing without any concern for money? Would I still want to do the same things I think I want to do now?

1) The first thing that comes to mind when I do this exercise is secure permanent-feeling housing. In maybe more than one place so I never have to experience summer in a place like Chico (110 F degrees, are you kidding me?) again. Our own house in the country or near the beach (probably the beach) someplace with nice views and plenty of space. I don’t imagine a grand mansion. Just a spacious enough house for two people with a guest house or two so people can visit or arrange for a longer stay. Nicely furnished with lots of wood and art, a real dining room that hasn’t been co-opted for making art so we can invite people to dinner, gardens, a patio and a large well-appointed art studio with lots of space to hang or store art in between shows or while it is being made.

2) I want to live not only in a nice location (like Santa Cruz, Big Sur, or someplace I don’t know well yet) but where we also have friends and family we want to hang out with.

3) Let’s go on vacation! Let’s go visit people around the world we’d really like to see. Let’s go places, get inspiration, stretch out a little bit. But eventually I’ll want to settle back down. I don’t want to have to travel all the time. I’m sure I have most of my millions left. Now what?

4) First thought…. I’d like to own a cafe / gallery in a location where it will be an instant success. Meaning, the cafe is a great community gathering place. Maybe a good place for both impromptu get togethers and events. And the artists showing in the gallery get to sell their work regularly. Success for us (notice I still was thinking I needed “success” at this point) and for anyone else involved.

Next thought: I don’t want to have to work in a cafe and wouldn’t have to! Oh, great! I’ll hire people for that part. I’ll help create the space, design it (with help), get to show my art and Paul’s art there, and… maybe I’d do that but maybe I wouldn’t want the headaches involved with that. (I’ll have to think about it.)

5) Wait a second. I have so much money. Would I still be worried about how to sell my art? Would I still think I needed to choose one art? (Hell, no!) Would I still want to do art? (…yes…but…) Of course, I would but I wouldn’t have to think like it’s all about making money! I wouldn’t have to make any money. I could do art for a purpose (if I want), I could do art combined with words that has an educational or enlightening purpose. Or do a variety of things — whatever I want to — just as an experiment. And I wouldn’t have to care about whether or where it would sell. I could create a showcase for it or donate it or  give it away to anyone I want.

6) And now we’re thinking philanthropically. It’s my fantasy… nobody knows I have this money. I think I’ll create a trust fund (maybe with some kind of conservative well-thought out investment strategy — I’ll need an advisor for that) to help take care of the people I love. Alrighty then, they’re taken care of.

7) Now I’m immediately thinking bigger than my frame of reference has been. If I'm not making my own furniture because I can buy it or can hire someone to execute my designs, and I'm not having to be an art production machine because I don't have to think about selling enough art to live on... I have a lot more free time again! So my thoughts immediately turn to a larger playing field.

I find myself thinking what kind of institution or organization would I want to create and/or invest in that would do the most good? What am I most interested in? Maybe an educational, inspirational institution that serves as a think tank and place to inspire the community with the positive impact we could make by fostering and pooling our creative potential. (That sounds like Esalen or at least what Esalen used to be about.) And then it hits me… I’ve used up my $28 million and then some.

And I didn’t put any money aside for my ongoing living expenses! Okay, back to step 1 — I’ll make sure there’s an ongoing living investment fund for Paul and me along with that house.

And now back to the “think tank”/Community Center for Creative Inspiration… If I and the people who want to be involved in this want to get some of those ideas done… my investment can only provide part of it. We’d have to pool resources, fundraise, crowdsource… get involved in local politics or beyond?

And suddenly it hits me that I don’t know anything about any of this stuff but I can already see that I’m imagining things that I imagine almost every millionaire and billionaire is doing and does. Still being concerned about managing money, still reaching for bigger things than can ever be done…

But at least I’m not thinking about whether I can afford to go out to eat and see a movie or how I’m going to pay the rent if I don’t figure things out.

And now that I’ve done this… what impact might this process have on what I decide I want from where I sit now?

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