By Stan Stewart
I have never won anything major in a lottery.
When I was a Baptist, I never purchased a lottery ticket. Baptists are against all kinds of gambling. When I switched to Presbyterian, I came to realise that many Presbyterians were having a little ‘flutter’ on this or that. Actually, I now think that some Baptists buy lottery tickets, but they do it on the quiet.
A couple of years back, when things didn’t look too promising for us, I spent some real money ($35 a ticket) on particular lotteries. Outside the Post Office a very pleasant lady set up a small table. She was selling lottery tickets for a fully furnished, beautiful home and sundry other prizes. It was the fully furnished house that caught my attention. Without asking my wife I bought a ticket. Later in the day this purchase led to a tense conversation with my wife. It was concluded, not very satisfactorily, when I reminded her of the cost of blouse she had recently purchased.
Gambling advertising sometimes features a phrase ‘the winning feeling’. Well, I had it! I could see that a big win would be the way out of our conundrum. This ‘winning feeling’ motivated me to secretly buy $35 tickets for two other fully furnished homes. With three tickets for three homes I felt sure I was going to win one of them.
I waited and waited. I still had the ‘winning feeling’ though it faded a bit. Then one day a very special envelope arrived from one of the lotteries I had entered. It was large and impressive. Addressed to me it had my ticket number on the envelope. As I opened it I thought ‘This is it!’ Even if it is not the house I would settle for the speed boat which I would sell. But it was neither. It was simply a personalized invitation to buy a ticket or tickets for another fully furnished home. ‘Why not buy 4 tickets and increase your chances” the letter read. I declined to act on their invitation. I never heard anything from the other two tickets
I had purchased. After that, the ‘winning feeling’ evaporated.
This year I have realized, as never before, how fragile life is. It is something none of us can take for granted. I already knew it is risky for alcoholics and addicts. But it is also fragile for the super-fit. The young instructor at our local gym dropped dead in the shower at the gym. Rigorous diet is no guarantee of avoiding an early death. Bodily destruction can come from a stumble in your perfectly furnished, elegant lounge room. You can be singing a hymn while ambling along on your stock standard old-style bicycle, and unexpectedly fall off and that’s it. Bubbles in your blood stream can suddenly burst and the sleep of death comes. And there are deadly diseases that suddenly appear, unknown to the medical profession. Face it, our lives can be derailed in an instant.
I sometimes wonder, how come I am alive when others known to me, some greatly loved by me, are dead – or permanently disabled? How does that work? It clearly can’t be based on a merit system. There is no shortage of evidence backing up the old saying, “Only the good die young.”
If you’re reading this, even though many known to you are dead, you are alive. Why? Are we the most deserving? Are we smarter than our dead friends or acquaintances? Whether we live or die seems random. I have been wondering if life is a kind of lottery and all of us who are alive have somehow obtained, or been blessed by, a winning ticket!
When we look back on life, we probably can recall mistakes we have made and deals we have missed etc.. But despite our fluffs, bad behavior and stupid decisions we are still here.
If like me, you are crazy enough to think there might be some smidgin of truth in the ‘life’s a lottery’ concept where does that leave us? To say the least, those of us in manageable health are all winners! I am not talking about financial status or social standing. I am thinking about the simple fact that we are still in the world of the living. That’s a fact, an amazing fact.
I have been thinking about ‘that winning feeling’. What’s that like for us? Surely it has to create ‘gratitude’. Glad to be alive! Lucky to be alive! I reckon that in a tense and often gloomy world, that feeling is something to share. But truth be known, I don’t always feel it. None the less, whenever I do emerge from my cocoon of grumpiness, I try to splash a little gratitude around. I reckon that’s the least I can do!