Welcome to this week’s Grateful Heart Monday, a day where I reflect on a special piece of gratitude from my life, which for today is with how money doesn’t control me like it once did, something I saw quite clearly on a trip to a local casino recently.
My family wasn’t poor or rich by any means growing up. We were very comfortable though and never went without. I got to go on some pretty cool vacations and was flying on planes for them from a very early age. I got to dine out at some seriously classy restaurants before I could even appreciate them. And I often received presents that kids could only dream about. Basically, I grew up with a family that had enough money to afford some nicer things in life.
When I ventured out on my own after college though and landed my first job at $34,000 a year back in 1995, I quickly realized through all my bills and responsibilities that the life I grew up with wasn’t the one I was going to be living out on my own. That changed though over the next decade after losing both my father and mother and receiving inheritance money. From the moment I did, I was off and running and that money buzz was on.
I couldn’t get enough of it and was constantly looking for ways to get more. My father was a gambler and often gambled much of his money in stocks and other fast money-making ventures, of which many never panned out. He liked to go to casinos too, where his drive there was definitely addictive in nature. While gambling in casinos was never one of my main addictions, more of a side one I occasionally did from time to time, spending money loosely on the dumbest of things most definitely was. The biggest one being the bed and breakfast I bought for my last partner, of which I completely lost a number of years afterward.
Nevertheless, after losing the bed and breakfast, I started to see how much money I had thrown away over the years. It was then I’d enter for the first time in life a time period where I wasn’t able to generate income, where I wasn’t able to live lavishly anymore, or buy whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, that is unless I wanted to put myself in debt.
At first, I was angry and resentful about this, especially because it coincided with the onset of all the health issues I still continue to face. Yet, as time went on, my view of money completely changed. I realized how much it had ruled my life. I realized how much it had controlled me. And I realized it had never brought me any true happiness, only temporary, like so many other of my addictions.
In light of that, I haven’t seriously gambled on anything really since I experienced the major financial loss from that bed and breakfast. I have occasionally stopped in a casino once or twice a year though, each of which always being precipitated by the desire to hit the buffet for a meal. This is of course, the reason why I found myself with my partner at the Motor City Casino in Detroit just over a week ago now.
We love the buffet there and it’s probably the best one I’ve personally eaten at on this side of the country. At least twice a year we’ll make the one hour drive there mostly to have a bountiful meal, and from time to time, to also spend an hour on some slot machines with a few dollars in hand. For the serious gambler, especially the addict kind, there’s no amount of controlling the time and money spent once on a casino floor, that is until they have no more money left to gamble. While I’ve never succumbed to that level of gambling, I’m still extremely cautious and never go to a casino alone for this very reason. Some would say I shouldn’t even play a few dollars on slots ever, yet in all honesty, I still once in a blue moon do, only to provide a healthy reminder why I don’t like to gamble in the first place.
Regardless, during those brief moments of watching some bars go round and round, hearing those bells, whistles and other loud noises, my old self did wish I’d win big. Yet, ironically the part that won, was me actually losing that little bit of money I brought with me, if that even makes sense. Because ultimately, winning big would have probably only driven my ego back into a thirst for having more money, something that was most definitely a dead-end. I know my old self after losing would have gone to an ATM and gotten more money to gamble, all in the hopes of trying to win big or at least get my money back. I’m thankful I didn’t do that and instead, appreciated the fun I had for the moments I pulled the levers alongside my partner.
So, as I dined at the buffet afterward, I felt a lot of gratitude that my life wasn’t being driven anymore by gambling or any other quick money-making scheme. And as we drove home from the casino, I was grateful as well with the realization that money doesn’t rule my life now. Instead, what does is my quest to find true happiness and joy from within, to like and love myself unconditionally, and to draw as close to God as I can…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson