Gambling for My Future

I play the Lottery, and let me just say it because you’re probably thinking it: “The Lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math.” Well, I am bad at math, really bad – but that’s not why I drop my money into that sinkhole.

Let’s be clear: Not only is this not my retirement plan, it’s not even an investment. I don’t do this with the expectation that I’ll win. In fact, I expect to lose. Yes, yes, I’m more likely to get hit by lightning – several times – than to win it big. I know. I don’t care.

Many years ago, when I was a troubled youth and in psychotherapy, my shrink asked me what my plans were for the future. I jokingly told him that my plan was to win the lottery, and he followed up by asking me, “Do you play?” I didn’t, and for the first time I realized that although I’d daydreamed of winning the lottery, it would never, ever happen if I never played, and I felt chagrined and more than a little foolish. I play because I’ll never win if I don’t.

I’ll never get rich working my job. It’s never going to happen. Work isn’t rewarding by any means or definition so I’m looking at a lifetime of employment drudgery. When I was a youth, and as I grew up, I recall hearing as common wisdom that Social Security wouldn’t be there for me when I retired. Now the common wisdom is that there’s going to be no retirement for us. I believe that’s the case.

I don’t know how that will end up for me. Fortunately my work doesn’t involve much physical labor so I won’t have a limited skill set and a body too old to utilize it. Nevertheless there are other hazards – failing memory, arthritis, and so forth. I just don’t know what will become of me. The Lottery, however unlikely, however astronomically unlikely, is my only ticket to financial security. I can afford a couple hundred dollars a year on that, and I don’t regret it and I don’t think I ever will. It’s worth the risk versus the certainty of working all my life, if indeed I’ll be able to do so.

Besides which, it actually gives me some hope and inspiration. Not real hope, mind you, but something akin to it. When the going gets tough for me and I want to quit my job in anger and frustration – that happens from time to time – I remind myself that I need to earn money, my job is how I do that, and c’mon Lottery!  Just knowing that I actually could win makes me feel better, and that’s what makes it totally worth it.

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