Playing to Lose

Christina - Atlanta, Georgia
Entered on October 14, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: hope

I believe in playing the lottery. Notice, I didn’t say, ‘winning.’ To me, the odds aren’t one in ten-million, they’re fifty-fifty. I’m either going to win or go back to work on Monday.

I believe in playing the lottery for a few reasons. Between the time we’re handed the ticket and the moment the numbers are drawn, we get to dream about what we would do and who we would include. It gives us a glimpse of the person we are and what we value. I believe in the playing the lottery because it represents the idea that you can still dream big despite the odds. But more importantly, I believe in playing the lottery for the feeling I get when I don’t win. It’s the feeling of contentment, knowing that I don’t need millions of dollars to be satisfied. That feeling is worth more than all the money in the world.

This wasn’t always so.

I used to play the same six numbers. Nine was for my birthday; seventeen and twenty for my parent’s birthdays; MTV was channel thirty-one; I wanted to meet my prince charming by twenty-five; and two, for my favorite New York Yankee. I used to dream of the trips I’d take and the designer clothes I would buy. I’d have a sports car for everyday of the week and never repeat a pair of heels. I refer to those as my blind years.

I never did win, and for that I am thankful. I worked through entry-level jobs until I climbed my way up the ladder of independence and self-fulfillment. I knew my friends weren’t using me for my money, because I clearly didn’t have any. I learned the value of a dollar after moving out of my parent’s house where dinner was always hot and my clothes smelt of lavender fabric softener. I don’t think about money and possessions the way I used to. Earning something feels better than winning it any day. It took me a few paychecks to realize this.

My generation is from the school of entitlement, where our parents never dispelled the myth of money not growing on trees. With the current economy, I think we can agree that the tree is gone, de-stumped and made into mulch. We’ve been taught to equate money with success, but we were never told it can also be the root of failure—unless it’s an account of a lottery winner. The lottery has gotten a bad rap.

I believe in playing the lottery because at the most basic level it teaches us that our tiny, seemingly insignificant, contributions add up to be something far greater.