“Maybe then, my life would start. Something would finally happen to me. I’d fall in love. I’d move a thousand miles away. I’d wake every day and know there was a reason to get out of bed.”
-Alice Hoffman, Local Girls
Right now I could be a $171 million winner. For the past 8 minutes, I could have been a millionaire. I don’t really feel differently right now than I did at 7:54 PM. I wonder if one could feel $171 million. Maybe the earth would shift just slightly under my feet. That could have happened. I was getting up off the couch–after watching another outstanding episode of Southland–probably at the precise moment the numbers were being chosen. I may not have noticed the shift as I tripped over my running shoes. Now it’s been 12 minutes. I still don’t feel differently. Maybe that’s a sign.
The thing is, I don’t really care about the money. At least not as it pertains to buying things, possessions. As my friend said tonight as we walked out of the 7-Eleven, it’s about freedom. Freedom from this job that is tearing me apart this year. Freedom for all my friends and family who are suffering or who have a dream just out of their reach. Freedom from the prison that life can become. Money may not buy happiness, but it sure does buy a lot of things that bring happiness. Money buys necessary home repairs. Money buys a new environmental small business. Money buys a wood-working shop. Money buys a life in a new part of the country. Money buys an escape from debt brought on by the world’s economic woes. Money buys the things we need so our stress doesn’t overtake us. Those may not be mansions or a BMW’s or diamonds, but they are the simple things that bring happiness. And they require money.
So, I play the lottery. I play for my own escape from a job that spits on me from the outside and the inside. I am stuck. I can’t throw caution to the wind and quit my job. I’m all alone, and if I do that, somewhere down the line I’ll be 65 and homeless, regretting every moment of such a silly decision. I might not even quit my job if I win the Lottery, but at least I’ll have a choice. I also play for my friends, so they may escape their own cells and enjoy the shine of their own dreams. My friends have talents, but they also have responsibilities and good sense. So they keep their talents packed away while they tend to necessity. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see them unpack those talents and let them shine? And I play for my family, so they may get something better from this world to which they’ve given so much. A man who’s worked hard for 50 years and provided a loving home for his family deserves more than to watch his business crumble because of the inept leadership of this country. And a person who wants nothing more than to return to a home where people are friendly and life is affordable should be able to do that. I play the lottery because I want to help people with the things that can’t be fixed with a hug or a smile or a Saturday afternoon.
Maybe tonight my life has changed. Maybe the lives of those I care about are about to change. Or maybe I will be at the 7-Eleven again on Friday. Either way, it’s okay. I’m playing hope. And if I win, maybe I will move a thousand miles away. And I will wake up every day knowing there is a reason to get out of bed.