At the risk of coming off incredibly more conceited than the title suggests, even from an early age, I was made to think there was a difference between me – and those telling me – that I was somehow unusual. Harry Potter has had it happen to him. You’ve had it happen to you. It’s probably something that happens to all academics. Most of us have had it said to us at least one point in our lives, by parents (not mine), or a teacher, or our best friends and lovers. My parents weren’t of that generation that even knew they were supposed to be the beacons of inspiration to their children. Fortunately, as I’ve hinted at earlier, it’s not always the parents that warm your heart or inspire your mind to achieve beyond the sum of all your parts. Mine left this type of motivation to the outside world, to the streets, to nature, to God, and (most importantly) Santa, all of whom somehow convincing me that I was special. Although the latter rarely showed up.
I was led to believe that I was one step before short yellow bus, and a little close to being a very touching ABC afterschool… special.
Yep. At one point I was certain (with some scientific method applied) that I was psychic, possessed innate elemental gifts, a whisperer to the four-legged, and that I had a unique place in the universe. As child of the 60’s, growing up in the 70’s, such deductions were gotten fairly. With all the mojo and hoo-doo of that age, how could I have not eventually come to this way of thinking? Still, even though most of those hippy-based hopes have waned since my innocence crashed in 2008, there are still glaring remnants of it behind my smile, staring back full in the mirror.
So at least once a week, sometimes even twice depending on any “disposable cash” – and I am speaking in relative terms her, because my ducats are not, by any stretch of the imagination, ‘disposable’. Truth, I should be mentally insane right now, as penny pinchy as Jack Benny, and only spending anything when it’s essential. And then only after Congressional oversight. With my ‘disposable’ change, comes the purchase of a lottery ticket.
Sometimes it’s Lotto. Mostly it’s Powerball and Mega Millions. Never have done Scratch though.
An even line between narcissistic delusions of grand entitlement and distracted hope, the numbers are either carefully conceived or calculated, occasionally picked randomly en route, or they are derived from objects with digits beyond the 7-Eleven window. Aware that it’s almost a one in a 300 million chance of winning if I play, all those numbers would be reduced to total zero if I do not. So with that cheap preschool number two pencil (sometimes bringing one of my own, sometimes putting the number two because it’s the type of pencil) my vanity is then indulged. With this minute scribbler comes an existential confidence that I’m somehow chosen by heaven to win. Size does not matter.
After that deed is done. I fantasize about what I would do if I woke up a Monday multimillionaire. Those who took me in when I had nowhere to go. Those who gifted me with a coat for the cold, the people and learning institution to whom I am in debt, I would thank them and the Academy. Where would I live? Would I build or just buy? Would I stay where it is too very often rainy and gray? Would I, mere hours later, ride out in that R8, the one that’s taunted me from behind that show window? A road trip? Orthodontic work? Electrolysis? Hair transplant? There would definitely be yoga and a gym membership in the plan.
The odds are astronomical. But so is life. The universe loves me. There’s magic in my bones.
But what about these poor, unfortunate souls who actually won? I would hope to have a bit more savvy than that. Still, that delusional narcissism is in here. It hints that I may one day be there, either through hard work or windfall.
The work has been hard! Today was the perfect day, me doing perfect thing. Stars are properly aligned – somewhere. I am set.
It is now the next day. And though it’s not the first thing done, having taken a walk out for some chai with a friend who’s letting me couch surf a bit, at last the Internet browser is engaged, the beach head of the lottery page invaded.
Scattered on the sands lay the torn remnants of red and white shredded tickets, the casualties of torn dreams. The cold slap in the face of surf and tide reminds, with a sobering wet, that neither life nor universe is fair. The screech of a gull frustrated that its paper and not mana, suggests that maybe it’s about impartiality.
Why even contribute to the “poor man’s tax?” The motivation is quite primitive. Playing feels like hope. Maybe there are even varying degrees of faith, a faith in chance, along with egocentric conviction in one’s own uniqueness.
My needs so few these days, any lottery jackpot would be more than enough to reach comfort in retirement. Phyllis Diller (rest in peace) said, during her 2006 with Home Media Magazine, “Now that I’m really old, I realize one of the things it takes a lot of money to buy is silence.”<source of quote>
After watching that interview, that statement always stuck with me. Growing through a loud, often socially challenging background, the silence of libraries with sunlight and lots of alpine foliage is what I’ve continuously coveted. The rain is gone at the moment. Gold from the sky, illuminates the green all around me. Mostly conifer, some deciduous, it’s a welcomed kind of green.
It’s time to go about my day, mindful of debt, my soul chastened, not a muggle, and certainly not in possession of any practical magic.