Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's Time to Play


A long long time ago, I had one dollar.  That was it.  Even in those days it really wasn't enough to buy anything other than a lottery ticket.  I'd never bought a lottery ticket. They'd said gambling was wrong, and it's not a great fit for my nervous bits that hate too much suspense and risk.  But lottery didn't feel like gambling, and lots of people did it, and didn't seem to be too bad off.  On the other hand I'd heard lottery called "taxes for people who can't do math..." which seems pretty terrible. I'd also read a Readers Digest report about the super high suicide rate among lottery winners because it turns out all their problems weren't about money, they were about them.  And also, they can't figure out where they fit in with society, and people use them.  It turns out to be pretty depressing. And so I bought my first lottery ticket.  And I did not get hooked.
desperately seeking signs of spring

A few years ago, a friend was recounting to me how she'd won the lottery, paritally, about $60,000, "Which pays some bills, you know."
"Ooh, that sounds exciting!  How lucky!  I wonder if I'll ever be lucky enough!"
$60,000 couldn't possibly ruin your life.
And she says, "Well, I know you, and I am certain you don't play the lottery.  You know, you've got to play to win.  It's true."
Ah yes, the age old problem.

So that's how I started my once a month, one ticket gambling addiction.  I only buy the low payout tickets, so if I do win, it just helps without hurting.  Even with such low stakes, it's been a heady mental work out.
look at February through the eyes of love and you will find signs of spring

First off, there's the probability issues.  Yes, I do know, as Huck is prone to repeating, that the probability is really small.  It's smaller than getting in a car accident while picking up my kids from school, and yet I still do that activity... wait... I think that's the TBI talking... I'm not sure that idea is working in my favor. But the truth is that someone is going to win, and it could be me.  With Huck's preferred lottery-playing method I will never win, am guaranteed to not win because I never bought a ticket.  The other method, buying a ticket, increased my odds by how many times I don't know, because any number times 0 is 0.  But it increases it from 0 to something, which is more likely to win than nothing.

The weeping willow is the first to dance
I was reading the Abraham-Hicks stuff last year because it seemed like a woo woo version of Learned Optimism and there were some good nuggets of truth.  But I've never been so stressed out as when I was trying their methods.  They were saying everything that happens to me is because I'm putting that energy into the universe.  Now, I suspect that is true for many many things, but it has logical limits.  I would be having one of those days with kids puking, cow sales falling through, dishes sliding off previously sturdy shelves, windows breaking and I'd be thinking, "Okay, this is all caused by my thoughts.  Now HURRY UP and figure out which one before someone gets killed!"  But then, the whole Law of Attraction theory truly jumped the shark when the book claimed that the holocaust victims brought it on themselves, and children born with congenital deformations did it on purpose so that they could experience life from a unique perspective... um.... did some one ask their moms if they were up for that?  It's all too Ayn Rand for me.  Everyone gets what they deserve.  No room for compassion.  All love is tough love.  The universe is an unforgiving energy, just like Old Testament Yahweh.

I explored the lottery with their theory that the only reason we don't win the lottery is because we don't believe we will because those statistics have poisoned us. Math as poison? Truth as poison? That's how the universe views math and truth? The LAW of Attraction is greater than math and truth? But I tried it, I bought my lottery ticket and tried to overcome truth-math poison.  But I was only able to win $1.  Oh, we of little faith.  The fault was entirely mine, of course. Augh: the shame of not winning!  My faith is so weak and powerless over math and truth.  I guess I'm just not attractive enough to win the lottery, I'm just one of 2.7 million lotto losers.  How can we live with ourselves?

class reunion in the works

The way I dealt with my epic failure to control the energies of the universe was by returning to the Buddhist methods for dealing with life: letting it unfold in whatever way it will without overly trying to control it.  It may not be a method for winning the lottery, but for gaining peace of mind, it seems to work a hell of a lot better than the Law of Attraction.  Now I buy my monthly ticket  ... I don't know why, but it's not to exercise my will over the universe.

Post Abraham-Hicks: what I now do for the few hours between purchase and loosing is the same thing all the other losers do: imagine myself with lots of money.  I fall down this fantastic jewel encrusted rabbit hole. Apparently this is what is meant by "play," because I can't imagine that saying "One quick pick Hit 5, please," to a clerk is much of a game, or much fun, or could possibly be mis-construed as "Playing." In this fantasy hour, we get swept up in the story: "It was just a whim... picked up the ticket with my hemorrhoid cream that day...and now, qui sait, mi amore, hop in my Lamborghini and let's find out."

So where does my imagination run too?  What wild fantasy? First: pay off my creditors: student loans, car loan, house loan (if I get that much!), the credit card.  Second: put money away for college tuition for my kids.  THEN!  Save money for retirement.  At this point I take an honest look at my lotto choice and realize that the one I'm playing could maybe pay off the card, at best.  I haven't even gotten to the vacation to Denmark, Norway and Holland.  Or Huck's pick: Australia.  What about that nice wool coat with the peacock on it?  And damn it, I still can't buy the lot next door! or a new fridge not held together with duct tape! or a big red barn!

It turns out I don't actually need to win the lottery to get depressed about it because at this point I realize that my financial dreams, my big lotto fantasy, is to pay off debts, save money, and buy a new coat.  Yep.  Those are apparently my big dreams.  Not to start up a new company or non-profit.  Not a scholarship for pastor's daughters rebelliously studying liberal arts at a secular university (there are no scholarships for such folks, I looked.)  Not a new wing for the library. Not jewels. Not even a congressman.  Nope.  My dreams are little tiny things with interest.  And that is just sad. I apparently already have every mediocre material thing I want out of life and now I just was them to be paid for.
 Bell Pepper in Spring, the lucky winner!

At this point in the process, it's time to check my numbers.  And I shuffle over to the computer, hunch in my chair in classic shame-posture and punch in my numbers, heavily, knowing I didn't win and likely never will.  And I feel shame that I wasted another dollar.  And that, people, is called "playing the lottery."  It's a predictable, low anxiety head-game.

1 comment:

  1. Lottery is a game of chances, and you would sometimes need lady luck to win one. Playing is different from getting hooked. Play lottery only with your spare money, and never think of it as a source of income; you might end up losing money than earning more. Hard work is the secret to gaining wealth.

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