I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Placing a wager

Another rose from the garden

 I know I've shared pictures I've taken before of the Cornwall Rose Garden roses, but I can't resist when there's nothing more exciting to show you. This is one of the last fading roses of the season, and there are more rose bushes without any blossoms at all, making the remaining ones even more precious to look at. When my friend John drives into the neighborhood and drops me off before I take my gentle and enjoyable walk home, I spend a few minutes admiring what's left. Maybe one day this winter I'll even see one with some snow on it, who knows?

For now, I'm enjoying our seasonal change, with days of rain and then days of sunshine, cool temperatures, and lots and lots of green to soothe the eyes. Yesterday I decided to buy a Powerball ticket, considering all the hoopla that has developed over the fact that nobody has won this particular lottery since June, and the jackpot has reached well over $600 million. I guess that fact alone should tell you about my chance of actually winning: well over 300 million to one. But as people have said before, someone has to win eventually, and it might as well be me. And you can't win if you don't play.

This morning I checked the winning numbers against my ticket, and guess what? I didn't win either. But the whole process of buying a ticket raised an interesting conversation with SG: he asked me if I was indeed willing to win, since it would change our lives significantly. It caused me to go online and read about what has happened to previous winners of large jackpots, and while realizing my chances of winning are small, I was actually not looking forward to winning, and pleased instead to find that I did NOT win. A double benefit for the small price of a ticket.

It had been years since I last bought a ticket, and I was surprised to find that these days (in Washington State, at least), you no longer go to a counter in the store to purchase the ticket, but a vending machine gives you the option of playing dozens of different games. I placed my money into the slot, which warns that it does not give change, and out spit a paper with my numbers already chosen. I suppose that one of the options would have been to choose my own, but I didn't stand around considering what I should do. After all, there was a line at the machine when I got there, and one was forming behind me. All that money! And one person was playing several different games and put a LOT of money into the machine. I was fascinated by his intensity and wondered if he does this all the time, wanting to ask him but was afraid I might anger him if he has a method and might see me as interfering. So I just kept quiet and watched.

If we find it hard to believe that winning millions might not be so lucky after all, we just don't have a good enough imagination. If I fantasise about winning the lottery, it doesn't take long before all sorts of worrisome potential consequences occur to me.—Julian Baggini

In so many concrete ways, I feel that I have already won the real lottery of life, by continuing to have health and companionship well into my late seventies. That, of course, is not guaranteed for the long term, but it does give me a reason to let happiness and joy surround me all the time. Giving thanks for that which we do posses right now is, indeed, a much better way to spend my time than wishing for a windfall.

My maternal grandfather was an addicted gambler. Since he was the owner of an inn that made him well off, he managed to set up a back room where men from all over came to gamble. His family didn't know anything about it, until he died and my grandmother learned that the home she thought she owned had been mortgaged several times over. Not only did she lose her husband, but everything she owned as well. She was bitter over it and had to live in a small bedroom with my family. She was not a happy person; I learned at an early age that gambling is a disease and that I was fortunate not to have inherited it.

Yesterday's adventure into buying a lottery ticket was an eye-opener. While I am not a gambler, there seem to be plenty of them out there. I truly was surprised at what a racket selling tickets of chance has become in our world today. I do hope that whoever does win this current game will be blessed by the money and will find ways to spread it around with delight and will rejoice in the ability to bring happiness to others.

In studying Buddhist philosophy (my latest obsession), I have learned that generosity is much prized by followers of the Dharma, and that having too much of anything is just not helpful to spiritual practice. Although I'm not likely to go so far as to wander off into a cave in order to seek enlightenment, I am realizing that owning too much is just as distracting as not having enough. This gives me a chance to be grateful for my just-right existence, and to thank the machine for not transforming my life by causing me to win the lottery. It will probably be a long time before I get caught up in such a desire again.

I just checked the weather, wondering what I should be dressed in today for me to happily spend time outdoors. The temperature is a bit cooler than the seasonal average, and sprinkles and light rain are forecast for the day, meaning I can rummage around in my closet for just the right apparel. I'll want to get my steps in and close the exercise rings on my Apple Watch. It never fails to delight me to walk around in the beautiful forests that exist in my town. I am such a fan of magnificent trees, and they are within a short walk from here, waiting for me in Cornwall Park. Today I will visit them, along with (of course) a trip to the coffee shop and some time to chat with my friends there.

My tea is gone, my dear partner just got up to use the bathroom and is now settling back into bed to continue his sleep, while I begin to move towards becoming upright and going through my usual morning routine before heading out the door. I am feeling pretty good this morning, with only the usual aches and pains to remind me that I'm alive and ready to start another new day, with joy and love and hope for a wonderful future for all of us to share.

Until we meet again, dear friends, I hope you will take a look around at your life and all the blessings that surround you. We are indeed fortunate, in myriad ways, and we rarely take the time to stop and notice. I wish you all good things for the week to come. 


Far Side of Fifty said...

I have not bought a ticket in a long time, certainly someone must win was my attitude! I find no enjoyment in letting the machine pick my numbers so I try to go with my fav numbers. 600 million that is a lot of love to spread around...sometimes when I am bored mowing...I think about what I would do...it is a fun daydream:)
I hope you have a wonderful week! Good that you take time to smell the roses!

Rian said...

No, I'm not a gambler either, DJan. And it's been years since I even thought about buying a lottery ticket. Like you, I'm not sure it would make our lives better. But it is fun to think about what one would do if it happened. And I agree that we should be happy and thankful to have arrived at this age with relative health and a partner still by our side. Just finished The Dalai Lama's Cat and found it to be a very enjoyable enlightening read. Enjoy your Sunday!

Linda Reeder said...

I have never personally bought a lottery ticket. Tom has bought a few. Gambling is not my thing either.
Yesterday was a quiet, peaceful day. It was lovely. Today is a celebration day. We will soon leave to go to Salty's on Alki for a brunch with Tom's twin, our kids and grand kids, a couple of cousins and a friend or two. This evening we will be at the stadium cheering on the Sounders and hopefully celebrating a win.
Tomorrow, Tom's real birthday, will be quiet again, but I will cook him a good dinner, using some of those fresh vegetables we bought yesterday.
Peacefulness and contentment in one's life are blessings I am happy to share with you.

Arkansas Patti said...

I personally think winning that much money would be a curse yet I do buy when when the pay out is ridiculous. Go figure.
I just finished The Dalai Lama's Cat also and enjoyed it. It actually nudged me to try mediation. Thanks for pointing it out.

Elephant's Child said...

I am not a gambler either. Himself spends a small amount of Lotto tickets each week (and sometimes wins small amounts).
I am, like you, a winner in the lottery of life.
Have a wonderful week dear friend.

Galen Pearl said...

That is an interesting reflection on gambling and the consequences. And on winning the lottery of life -- loved that!

Gigi said...

We used to have a group of us that pooled our money and played for several years. Eventually, the majority of the group retired and our group was down to two. Then COVID hit so that pretty much ended the practice. The Husband will buy tickets occasionally but we both agree that we don't want to win the big prize - that would give us too many headaches. But it might be nice to win a smaller sum...it costs nothing to daydream. ;-) On the whole, we aren't really gamblers either. And, yes, I think you have won the lottery of life!

Anvilcloud said...

In effect I purchased a lottery ticket this week — two, in fact. They are my winnings :) from tickets given to me at Christmas if you please. I don’t know what I would do should I ever win a significant amount of $, but I never will.

Betsy said...

It's funny that we were just talking about this with our adult daughter and grand daughter yesterday. Neither Hubby or myself has ever purchased a lottery ticket and would have no idea how to. We would be a laughingstock, trying to figure out the machines. My MIL however was always SURE she was going to win Publishers Clearinghouse for years and years. Our kids loved spending time with her deciding how they would all spend the winnnings.
I try to be content with what we have. God has blessed us greatly with love and good health for all of us.

William Kendall said...

That much money would be a problem in the long run.

Marie Smith said...

Gambling can have such devastating consequences. I saw families torn apart by a parent’s gambling and children suffered. Such a terrible illness and so hard to understand! You poor grandmother! How sad for her after a lifetime! She was so lucky to have family to help her though.

My husband has a dream of winning a big lottery and buys one ticket any time the jackpot is above 50 million. I imagine how I would give my half away. It would give me great delight to help make some people’s lives easier/better.

I had a wise friend who said, “If money can solve it, it’s not a problem.” I’d love to help those type of “problems.”

ApacheDug said...

I was actually going to write something about gambling on my own blog, with all the recent advertising lately for sports betting. My grandmother was addicted to games of chance, and bingo. So was her brother, my great uncle Bob and the two of them went to Las Vegas every year for a number of years. My dad was addicted to playing the lottery, and after he died and we were cleaning out his truck, I found bundles, thousands of lottery tickets. To this day it all angers and depresses me. Well DJan, I'm glad you have a mature and responsible attitude towards it as I believe most don't. FYI, there's a YouTube channel called pablito's way where they tell stories of people who won major lottery and how it ruined their lives. But everyone thinks they're the exception! 🙄

Red said...

Interesting topic. I'm sure that there are many stories about people who won and all the problems it made for the. Gambling addiction is certainly a reality and very sad.

Rita said...

I haven't bought a lottery ticket since I quit driving when I got housebound. But I bought them after the big prize was won when it was down to a smaller amount like one million because I figured my chances were better on many levels. Too much money is a curse, I think. I won $20.00 once and that about covered what I had spent altogether--LOL!

John's Island said...

I am quite interested in what you are learing about Buddhism. Hope you will share more about that with us. I've found some great stuff in Buddhism for Busy People. Wish I could talk to you to see which of David's books I should read next.

Linda Myers said...

Great post, DJan! That lottery thing can be as addictive as Las Vegas. I go to Vegas for a couple of days every five years and then I've had enough. It seems like artificial excitement, this gambling business. I'd rather live more simply.

I noted also that this is the first time ever that I have read your partner was doing anything other than sleeping when you're writing your Sunday blog. A little variety!