Someone I know was once acquainted with a gentleman – and I use the term loosely – of a certain character.

This gentleman, when he was in his twenties, was in a terrible accident; the kind that leaves people shaking their heads, crossing themselves, and marveling that anyone survived.  Against all odds, he not only survived, but exceeded all expectations and fought to regain his life in all its former glory, garnering a small amount of media attention along the way.

So that’s horrific accident, miraculous recovery, and 15 minutes of fame:  check.

Then life goes on, right?  Perhaps you are a better person for it?  Perhaps you find ways to help others who have been in a similar situation?

Whether it was something hidden in the dark crevasses of his character, or something he caught from the bite of fleeting fame, this gentleman decided that life was now beholden to him.

 No ordinary human, he.  No.  He was now, to his mind, special.  MORE special.  The world had done something bad to him, and now?  Now THE WORLD OWED HIM.  Big time.  And he stood, ready to collect.

When the acquaintance ended, this gentleman was busy, desperately trying to trade on a years-old miracle to buy himself the fame and reputation he felt he so richly deserved.

The world turned her cold shoulder.

Now, lest you think I am vilifying or criticizing this gentleman…well, I might be.  Just a little bit.

But only a little bit, because I know that it is all easy to slide down that slippery slope of entitlement, to land at the bottom, all petulance and grasping hands.

We’ve all had hardships and disappointments in our lives.  I think that sometimes, we have this little scale in our heads, and we expect life to sort of balance out in the end. 

We think, “OK, I’ve paid my dues, had my hardships.  Now it’s my turn.  I’m ready, world – bring on the abundance!”

And the world keeps on spinning, oblivious to our tiny, petty demands.  Because that’s not the way this thing works.

I think that sometimes, we get so consumed with what is owed to us that we spend all our time standing there, waiting with our empty bushel basket to collect our just desserts, when the real reward is passing us by.

That’s right.  You knew it was coming to this, didn’t you? 

Life.  Life is the reward.  The fact that we are here at all is our big jackpot – the Grand Prize.  You and I, friend?  You won the lottery; I found the golden ticket.

This is it.  And it’s enough, isn’t it?

Yes, there are days (weeks, months, years, sometimes) when life doesn’t seem so grand.  It feels cold, looks ugly, and is viciously, savagely unfair. 

But it’s not.  Life is neutral.  It doesn’t care about you, but neither does it wish you harm.  It’s like a diamond:  glittering, precious, but the toughest substance around, and able to cut…well, lots of other things.

And if all you do with this life you’ve been given is fritter it away waiting for something good to happen, you are going to be sorely disappointed at the end of things.

So when I had this thought today, it sort of lifted a weight from my shoulders.  I actually put down my bushel basket and asked myself:  “What the hell was I thinking?”

The world does not owe us anything, so don’t sit around waiting to collect.  You’ve already won your big prize:  spend it accordingly.