It’s hard to say how the topic of lottery jackpots came up this time.
Likely, somewhere in our travels that day, we’d passed one of those ubiquitous signs that boast the latest obscene figure — usually some unfathomable number in the tens of millions — that some lucky so and so is going to claim eventually.
It was one of those typical, “What would you do if it were you?” conversations.
Lounging on the deck, drink in hand, enjoying a cool breeze on an otherwise warm August day in the north Okanagan, it should have been easy to let our imaginations run wild.
But, I’m sorry to say, we weren’t an overly creative bunch — the answers we managed to come up with were pretty standard fare.
A house overlooking a lake. And, of course, no lake house would be complete without a fancy boat; a suite in a downtown Vancouver high-rise, offering easy access to concerts, the theatre, festivals and sporting events.
My idea of paradise would be a quaint little hobby farm, perhaps on the Island or somewhere in the Interior. A place to really get away from it all.
And vacations, we would take so many vacations to so many different places.
Since none of us would ever have to work again, there’d be nothing to stop us from traveling whenever and wherever, for however long we liked.
It might have been around this point that our discussion about world geography took a sharp turn.
At some point, we got on the topic of the Middle East, which led to refugees in general and, specifically, the thousands of displaced Syrians who now call Canada home.
We talked about the violence and poverty and terror, endured during five years of a civil war being fought on several fronts — this after living for years under a brutal dictatorship.
There may not be any fancy lake houses or penthouse suites in their near future. Perhaps not for generations to come. Maybe never.
But, we wondered aloud, what must it feel like to finally find yourself in a place where you don’t fear a knock on the door in the middle of the night; where a bomb going off in the street is an extremely remote possibility, rather than a given, where you can criticize the government without fear of reprisal?
That’s not to say that everything is perfect or that we should never complain or protest when we’re unhappy about something the government is or isn’t doing. Heck, that’s half the fun of living in a democracy.
As we talked, it dawned on us that in the one way that really matters, we’d already won the lottery. It had happened decades ago, and we’ve been carrying the winning ticket around with us ever since. Only we call it something else — a birth certificate.
Canada regularly finds itself at or near the top of international lists ranking quality of life, whether it’s the economy, peacefulness or pure natural beauty that’s being judged.
We may work and pay our taxes, contribute to charity and obey the law of the land. It’s all part of the deal.
Of course, our being here in the first place is purely an accident of birth.
It’s not like we did anything to deserve the privilege of having been born in Canada.
For any of us, in the end, it’s just luck of the draw.