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Lottery ticket

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The multi-state lottery is up to $112 million, so I bought a ticket. This, of course, is silliness in its rawest form. The odds are no different for a big pot or a small one. I doubt I would be any less happy winning a one million dollar pot versus a pot ten or hundred times that. So why am I so much more willing to throw my hard-earned money away when the prize gets up into the triple digits?

An old army buddy used to say that the lottery is a tax on those who are bad at math. Maybe. However, it is also a tax on those who allow delusional hope to blur the line between the rational and the irrational, between the possible and the impossible.

Sometimes I will build up an elaborate fantasy around what I would do if I won—how I would spend the money, how long before I quit my job, whether I would gloat and to whom, etc. Of course, when the winning numbers are announced, and I lose (which, considering the odds, is not that unexpected of an outcome); the fantasy bubble bursts, and I tear up the ticket and get on with my life. The hopeful fantasy is fun while it lasts, but there is little sense in dwelling on my loss when the odds were so significantly stacked against me.

The fantasy bubble does not always burst so easily. I have been carrying around a losing lottery ticket, so to speak, for far too long. When the prize-winning numbers were announced, I was devastated and have refused to accept the outcome. The sad reality is that the ticket was always without intrinsic value; I just did not realize it until I compared the numbers. Months later, though, the irrational is not just staring down the rational across a blurry line; the former is consuming the latter. The worthless ticket continues to fuel innumerable delusions, which once were a harmless distraction, but now are negatively impacting all aspects of my life—professional, personal, and spiritual. Fortunately, this has so far been a private struggle, hurting no one but myself; however, I fear that if I let it linger on, it may cause me to hurt and alienate those I care most about.

I even tried to tear the ticket up once, but quickly dug the pieces out of the trash and taped them back together. “Well,” I rationalized, “what if they announce all of a sudden that the drawing was in error, and they pick new numbers.” The cold, hard reality, though, is the drawing is past. I lost. I need to run that ticket through the shredder, and be done with it. I need to stop playing that particular lottery entirely and maybe try one with better odds. Unfortunately, I doubt that is something that I will be able to accomplish without help.

Inner Monologue Guy

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My inner monologue will not let me get to sleep. Usually, he just provides much-needed and extremely quotable comic relief, or he acts out entertaining “alternative universe” fantasy scenarios (like what would have happened if I actually said what I wanted to say when I was talking to her, or him, etc.).

Lately, though, monologue guy has developed a self-deprecating mean streak, and he refuses to just shut the hell up. To make things worse, tonight he chose to have a raucous party deep within my psyche. He’s brought along some friends, including inner turmoil, self doubt, angst, regret, and panic. Unfortunately, they have also decided that tonight is movie night, so they have dug out reels and reels of cringe-worthy memories to repeatedly show as twisted home movies.

I have kept these guys bottled up for so long, they have become increasingly restless. Emboldened by their successful escape from the depths of my soul a couple of weeks ago, they have since made repeated escape attempts. Fortunately, each time I have been safely alone within the confines of my home. After each attempt, though, considerably more effort is required to lock them back up, and the damage left in their wake is harder to repair. I just fear that they will choose an inopportune moment to make another such attempt and seize control—those I care most about will most certainly be caught in the crossfire.

I have been trying to distract the lot of them by watching a little TV, reading, surfing through other blogs; but I cannot concentrate on any of these things. It surprises me that they are actually allowing me enough peace of mind to write this blog post, although I fear that I may only be taking dictation from these guys, who seem temporarily bored by the home movies, and seem to have thought that it would be raucous fun if they tricked me into writing a ridiculous metaphorical blog post…

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