Jewish Journal


June 21, 2010

Winning The Lottery Is A Big Failure


If someone offers you something too good to be true, it usually is. Today I got a call from a friend, “Wanna go with me to loot some woman’s house?” And I of course responded with a yes, cause that’s what I do- take things that aren’t mine.

Apparently the owners of this house left all their stuff and moved to the Caribbean after winning a huge lottery ticket and the house was fresh for the picking for anyone that wanted their left behind treasures.  The real estate agent was a friend who was trying to clean the place out before putting the house on the market. Apparently, the house was filled with fancy shoes, unopened packages of clothes and mink coats for the picking.  I’m imagining the half yearly sale at Nordstrom’s, but better (cause it’s free).  I was also extremely curious by anyone who would leave behind a lifetime of things. I knew there had to be a cool story behind this little daytrip.

This house was more like a half yearly used TJ Maxx sale.  Sort of like if I went to a TJ Maxx outlet store and bought it all, wore it for 12 years, and then sold it back to TJ Maxx who then decided to throw it into one huge heap of garbage all over the floor. You can really learn a lot about a person when you sift through their things. For example, I learned they are not tidy, they have bad eating habits (hence the size triple xxx mu mu’s hanging in the closet and the overcompensating collection of unopened vitamin bottles) they had a cat, they had terrible taste in art, they loved collecting knocked off knock off handbags and getting hateful revenge.

I know what you’re thinking, Chava, don’t judge. But after I found a book entitled “How to get back at the people you hate, the perfect revenge list” next to a machine that has the capabilities of changing your phone voice on the shelf next to the bottles and bottles of schnapps where they kept a huge collection of murder mystery books, it became obvious, these were bad people. The world really makes NO sense.  Because these people, who had clearly lead a life that involved heavy drinking, a proclivity towards retaliation, who had very few endorphins as a result of not exercising making them full of rage and resentment (the only work out machine was dusting away in the garage) who were lazy and watched TV all day (they had a TV in every room- including the kitchen) and who never volunteered for anything that benefited society (now that’s just me profiling- I can do that since they didn’t have a single award for being exemplary citizens) somehow won the LOTTERY?!

Does this make any sense at all?  Which brings me to my next realization.  It’s all about perspective. Maybe the way I should be looking at this needs a shift. Maybe we need to believe although the lottery is what we want, maybe getting the winning ticket is the one “gift” that brings even less love and happiness into our lives.

The lottery is not a triumph it is a huge failure.

For if the universe makes any sense at all, and the “what comes around goes around” rule is true, then it would make sense to say that any person who lives their life filled with hate, while drunk, eating take out food next to their cat, would receive what’s coming to them- and since they got the winning ticket, I’m thinking, maybe winning the lottery really isn’t a winning ticket. Maybe we are fragile humans who are tricked into yearning for this trumped up “prize” and programmed into believing falsely that this auspicious conquest of landing the lucky number is fortune, when really it is unfortunate.

Yes, they may be living in the Caribbean with a trainer eating exotic gourmet foods their chefs are preparing for them while they organize charitable events that are helping society and Chinchillas. But money don’t buy you class. Which is why I’m pretty sure, they’re living in a tasteless house on the Caribbean, which smells like cat feces while they snort down take out food every night now that they own the town “Burger Caddy Shack”, and spend all their time planning who they’re gonna hurt, murder, or stick it to.  If that’s what winning the lottery looks like, I want no part of it.  ‘Cause lets face it, you end up taking you with you when you move to an island and you end up taking you with you even when you win the lottery. 

Recently I spoke with a friend who told me about a couple who had lost all their wealth in this economy and took their own life. They had been so consumed with their money defining them that they couldn’t live life with out it and ended any potential for seeking life’s purpose early.  Such a tragedy!

As my mother-in-law says, “Money is a dangerous mistress. She reels you in and seduces you and then lets you down when she finds someone else to shack up with, without any notice.”

I left this house and looked around at my own life. I saw my friends and my home filled with beautiful Jewish artifacts reminding me of my contribution in this world. I saw pictures of my beautiful family and the many letters I have received through out the years of gratitude from people I have touched. I also saw the broken down boxes piled high waiting to be filled because I’m being forced out of my rental, since it went into foreclosure, a sore prop of the economic times we live in. It reminded me of life’s fluidity and also of the fact that my money mistress has found someone else to latch onto.  But it’s okay with me, cause she’s living it up in the tropics with unforgiving crazy people who have no taste in art and who don’t take their vitamins. So who got the raw end of that deal?

Then I looked at my computer filled with the many projects I have awaiting to touch the world with. And I felt for the first time, like I had won the lottery.  I won the real lottery, not the one everyone else believes in. You know the one, with the scratchy numbers you have to rub out to find out if you’re the winner? I won the better one- “The Creative Life Jackpot”.  This complicated jackpot has twists and turns that lead you to the most un-expected possibilities and enlightening aha moments. The creative life jackpot is the one where you get to experience love, laughter, and light. It whispers meaning in your heart from the situations you encounter, the places you visit and the people who come into your life. The creative life jackpot forces you to rub out bad habits and create better ones. It forces you to struggle with hard decisions, difficult people, and challenging times so you build character and transform into a person of purpose with a better developed imagination. The creative life jackpot even lets you walk into a house filled with old things left behind by warped people with new money and allows you to take a look at the bigger picture of what makes life healthy rich versus filthy rich. The only thing I’m scratching out is my old ideology that getting the lucky number, which means having bad habits and a vengeful attitude with a fatter checkbook - is a win.

(I might have felt differently had these people left behind Gucci handbags and Christian Louboutins for the picking- but still.)

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