Winning the Lottery

I would guess that it is a vast minority of people who haven’t fantasized about winning the lottery. (And I’d further speculate that this would consist mainly of those who, somehow or other, had never heard of it to begin with.) After all, what would (seemingly) be a more sure-fire, effort-free, way to solve your biggest problems in an instant? Winning the lottery could mean, for instance, never having to work at some job you hate, or even moderately dislike, ever again.

That’s worth repeating:

NO STUPID JOB.  EVER AGAIN.

I’d be willing to wager the price of one SuperLotto or MegaMillions ticket that that thought alone is enough to elicit a huge smile on your face (if not fill you with tears of unmitigated joy).

And yet – on a deeper level we (sort of) understand that winning the lottery wouldn’t really be the panacea we imagine it would. Perhaps we have read about those studies that conclude that, after six months or so, lottery winners return to right around the same levels of happiness they had before winning. We may even have heard tales of people who squandered all of their winnings (and then some), or otherwise ended up much worse off than they were prior to winning – that winning the lottery had, in fact, ruined their lives.

Even so, we’re quite sure that such a fate would not befall us in the same situation. We would be far more sensible, far more responsible, far more intelligent and judicious with our winnings. We wouldn’t blow them or waste them. We would be so grateful to have won, we would even be sure to use some of our prize to perform good deeds as well as take care of our own creature comforts and the people closest to us.

Right?

***

Well…what if it turned out you already have won the lottery? And you are as happy in your lottery-winning reality as you were when you first woke up this morning, or as you are now, reading this. Perhaps – though you are to some extent aware of your incredible good fortune – you have come, over time, to simply take it for granted.

It’s not so far-fetched, is it?

Given that one very particular sperm cell, among some hundreds of millions of its comrades, had to be the one to fertilize the egg that became YOU in all of your unique (even if you’re a twin) chromosomal glory, it would reasonably follow that you have, in a very real sense, already won the lottery just by virtue of being born. The lottery of life, as it were.

And just as winning the dollar-jackpot lottery does not guarantee you freedom from countless potential sufferings (such as physical pain, illness, anxiety, loss of loved ones, loneliness, and purposelessness, to name an outstanding few), so, too, winning the lottery of life does not grant you immunity from any of these things. In fact, it all but guarantees them.

However, this does not take away your status as a winner and overcomer of truly incredible odds. You, if you’re reading this, have hit the jackpot!

So, seeing as how you are a lottery winner, I have a few questions:

•   Are you putting your winnings to use wisely, or are you spending them more frivolously/mindlessly than you thought you would?

•   Are you as philanthropic with your winnings as you imagined you’d be, or are you mostly hoarding them?

•   Do you fully appreciate your good fortune (even with its accompanying, inevitable difficulties) or have you come to take it for granted?

Life is difficult, even in best-case scenarios. Even for lottery winners. Difficulty just comes with the territory. Yet, most would agree it is a privilege to be here. And most would tell you that a lottery winner is a lucky person indeed.

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This entry was posted in Philosophical Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Winning the Lottery

  1. Ilana Weiss says:

    Amen!

  2. JB, a fellow hiker says:

    I’ve actually said that several times in the past year or so — I feel like I have won the lottery! Of life. 🙂

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