Strangely, the first two things that come to mind are wanting to feed the poor and buying a 30-foot sailboat. A contradiction embedded in American culture, noblesse oblige philanthropy and hedonism.

Perhaps this fantasy is a Rorschach test to mirror my true values. How do liberal guilt and the craving for sailing the entire intra-coastal waterway co-exist in my heart? Is this hypocrisy, or something else? I think there are two primary needs here: to serve and experience community, and to relax and become receptive to the inner dimensions within all things. And I don’t need a sailboat full of Care packages. In fact, money can’t begin to enable me to get involved with others and to find ways of opening up.

But a million dollars would surely lure my fantasies like a trawler’s net sifting out inexpensive wishes from those tantalizing, big-bucks desires. Maybe a Maserati, maybe a chalet in Vermont, maybe some trips to Egypt and China. Or, to be conservative, just stuff it all in a bank account and live off the $50,000 annual interest. Yet I keep thinking of John Lennon, who found more meaning in being a father, house-husband, and musician than in his millions.

John Cardarelli
Durham, N.C.

My dreams range from expensive coffee beans (I would have a coffee grinder at last) to a houseboat docked on one of the inland waterways of Holland. But there are small things I would take care of first. I would have my mother’s house renovated from the inside out. Then I would buy her a washer and dryer and some new clothes to practice the different cycles on. I would finance a conglomerate art gallery and bring together all my artist friends to create an unusual show filled with previously ignored treasures. I would give money for kidney and cancer research. I would join that fruit-of-the-month club, and have strawberries delivered in December. I would buy Jane and Rob a new house with more land and move into theirs. Travel would be an utmost priority, and I’d make sure that when the snow was on the ground each year I would be settled safely in Bali, Malta, or Sydney, Australia.

Unfortunately, money does mean freedom to me, in a wanton, fearful way. This is because I have always believed in that other freedom that comes from the mind, the senses, a healthy peaceful life. But wouldn’t a million dollars enhance all that! Breakfast out whenever I wanted and fresh flowers in the middle of January. I could buy the really nice shoes instead of their imitations. And when bills arrived on the first of the month my heart would no longer sink miserably. I could afford to own a dog, and every time I saw a beautiful book in the store, it could be mine.

There is no end to this list. But even if I never have a million dollars, I’ll do what I can to feel rich, to be generous and giving, full of dreams and a knack for making the best of what I’ve got (which, I think, is quite a lot).

Karen Levi
Durham, N.C.