If I had a million dollars

Published 3:03 am Saturday, April 5, 2003

By By Lloyd Albritton
People are always willing to give away what they do not have. "If I had a million dollars," we sometimes say, "I'd do 'this', or I'd do 'that'." Two close friends were walking together one day and one said to the other, "Henry, if you had a million dollars, would you give me half of it?"
"Why, of course I would, Sammy," responded Henry without hesitation. "As good a'friends as me and you are, if I had a million dollars, I'd give you half."
"Well then, let me ask you something else," said Sammy. "If you had a hundred bales of cotton, would you give me half?"
"Man, what're you talking about!" exclaimed Henry, feigning insult. "As good a'friends as me and you are, if I had a hundred bales of cotton, you know I'd give you half. I'd give you fifty bales."
"Can I ask you something else?" Sammy continued.
"Of course," replied Henry. "As good a'friends as me and you are, you can ask me anything."
"If you had two hogs," Sammy asked, "would you give me one of'em?"
Henry hesitated a moment, flashed a wily grin at his friend, and quipped matter-of-factly, "Aw Shoot now Sammy, you know I've got two hogs!"
We all talk a lot about the things we coulda done, or shoulda done, but never got around to. We talk about the things we'd like to do one of these days, the things we plan to do, the things we need to do; the things we will do, if the good weather holds up. But, most of all we talk about the things that other people ought to be doing, or should have already done. The plain fact is, when all is said and done, there is a whole more said than there is done.
There's a lot to be said for talking things through and planning ahead. Indeed, there are many goals in life that are not likely to be accomplished without prior planning. Yet, I think most of the things we talk about doing we never do. And if we should take a close accounting of all the things we have done in our lives, I suspect many of us would discover that some of our most worthwhile achievements have been serendipitous. This is one of my favorite words, which means "the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for."
It is a documented fact, for example, that many of the great scientific discoveries throughout history were accidents. The Knight who spent his life searching for The Holy Grail never found The Holy Grail, but he did discover many valuable personal insights along the road of his journey. My father once confided in me that he had planned to go to college on his GI Bill after WW II to become a veterinarian, but he got distracted along the way with the six children Mama bore him – ALL ACCIDENTS! I confess that my own three children were all accidents too, but they have been the crowning achievement of my life. If the truth were known, I suspect many of the great human figures who have changed the course of history might have been accidents. Forrest Gump's mother said it best when she said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
In the Bible, the Apostle James said, "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, 'Depart in peace. Be ye warmed and filled'; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?"
People tend to behave in accordance with their innate character, not their claims of virtue or their grandiose plans. What we think or say about ourselves is usually the least reliable indicator of how we might really behave when put to the test. I don't think war heros go into battle knowing of their courage or cowardice. They just spontaneously act in a way consistent with their core character. Stopping to help a stranger in need is not something one plans to do or not do either. It is simply something that we will do or not do when the time comes, depending upon the constitution of our character. The wisdom of good planning and fine expressions of good intent notwithstanding, in the end it is not what we intend to do that counts, but what we actually do.
Now, I don't want to overstate my own generosity because, if I should win next week's big lotto drawing, I might not be as generous with it as I think I would be this week. Still, I'm going to make a promise that you can put in the bank because I know without a doubt that I have the character to back it up: If I win next week's jackpot, I'm going to give all my friends A HUNDRED DOLLARS!

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