When luck smiles on you

I’m starting to think I should buy a lottery ticket. I’ve never been a particularly lucky person; I tend to believe that things happen more when we work for them, or like karma. But lately I’ve felt like my fortunes have improved… and I’m wondering how far I should push it?

Last week was the Melbourne Cup. It’s Australia’s biggest horse race – and an excuse to party. They call it The Race That Stops A Nation because it’s watched by millions; work stops (or people call in sick), most schools pause, it’s a public holiday in Melbourne, and everybody at the track dresses up and drinks champagne. Most of the outfits are good; some are tragic. Of course they’re the memorable ones. 😉

Usually I don’t bet, but I make an exception for the Cup. And this year I won! Efficient became the first horse since Phar Lap to win the Victoria Derby/Melbourne Cup double. Incredibly I got the quinella as well, which is a first for me. I’ve won the Cup six times now, though I know nothing about racing.

Winning was a nice surprise, and since then I’ve had small things go my way. Nothing major, but still the kind of things that don’t happen for me that often. I thought I was going to be late for a bus and it arrived just as I got there, which never happens; I heard from a few friends I hadn’t heard from in a while; there was an unadvertised sale at one of the music stores and I got 2 DVDs and a couple of CDs I hadn’t been able to find for years, and on sale. And just today a letter which I thought I’d lost or thrown away turned up when I decided I’d have one last look for it. I swear I’d looked through that drawer a hundred times, but today, there it was.

Of course all of these are probably just coincidences, but I can’t help feeling like I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment. And I think that’s the most likely reason. Winning put me in a good mood and I think if we feel happier, then often it has a roll-on effect; more good things seem to happen to us and we don’t notice the bad in the same way. We make our own luck.

The thing which worries me about that feeling is I can see how easily it can fuel addiction. I’m not a big gambler at all, but it’s a great rush when you win; it’s the thrill of beating the odds, of having luck with you, and you wonder if you can do it again. And again. Before you know it, suddenly you’re in debt, or worse you find you can’t stop. I imagine that’s how it feels for any addiction; gambling, alcohol, drugs. Perhaps that’s how addiction begins; a simple win betting $10 on a horse and something clicks in your mind, and from then on there’s something inside you that you can’t be rid of, hard as you try.

I don’t have an addictive personality, so I’m not worried about that myself; I only bet once or twice a year and I’m rarely tempted to gamble in other ways. But I do think it’s a problem for a country that one of its most celebrated days be dedicated to gambling. The week before the Cup, there’s so much coverage that you can’t escape it; for that week we glorify gambling and any ads or warnings are scarce. The Cup is part of our national heritage; we embrace it as part of our nature, but we don’t want to deal with the consequences of that – the ugly addictions beneath the surface. I’m not sure what that says about our culture.

But it is a great day, one of the few days that really does unite us as a nation, and for most people it’s just a chance to let their hair down and have some fun. That’s what it is for me. I’m still amazed I won, and that Lady Luck has been smiling on me since. So what do you think? OZ Lotto‘s up to $8,000,000 this Tuesday. Should I buy a ticket? 🙂

5 thoughts on “When luck smiles on you

  1. you must be taking all my luck because i’m having a terrible week! 😛 (well, some of it had been my doing, but that’s not the point.)

    some people say it’s superstition, but i believe in luck even though i don’t consider myself superstitious. i think no matter how hard you work, you still need a little bit of luck to succeed.

    i mean, if you watch any sports game, you’d surely have seen a game where the more deserving team lost despite having played better than the other team, who got a lucky shot. how do you explain that then?

    CJ: Ah, so that explains it – thanks, sulz, I knew it had to be coming from somewhere! 😀 It’s funny with luck, it does tend to come in cycles; sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t. One of life’s little mysteries.

    We all need a bit of luck, but I think our attitude has a lot to do with it as well; being confident and punctual might impress an employer, for instance, but you need some luck to get the interview. Maybe they’re two sides of the same coin.

    An upset in sport I think usually you can explain. Roger Federer is an example; easily the best player in the world, but he does lose every now and then. It’s impossible to keep that standard; all it needs is for him to not play as well on a particular day, and another player to be better prepared and playing well on that day, and an upset can happen. Being aggressive is important as well; the more chances you take, the more likely a shot will come off.

    But there’s definitely an element of luck as well, particularly when matching different teams or opponents… luck’s really a leveller and creates the excitement. I’m not superstitious, but I have things I do when it’s a close match; I’ll never change the channel or where I’m sitting because then they’ll lose! Silly, of course – but in that moment it makes sense. 😉

  2. Go for it buy the ticket..Anyway, luck or not if you don’t buy it u won’t win for sure….But, ur are right about bringing up the darkder side of gambling…Some people lose everything they own cause of addiction issues…True that luck seems to come in circles and it’s just a bump when ur on the bad luck circle..So, I wish u good luck!!

    CJ: You know, I think I will buy one. Thanks, CV! The reason I don’t usually is because if you do it for years, you could end up spending more than you’d win. But you’re right, if I don’t then I’ll never win… so maybe the odd one won’t hurt. 🙂

    I think gambling is an addiction we overlook sometimes, or we do here anyway… it’s seen as healthy in our society to take risks, so the thrill of gambling is something we’ve been brought up to enjoy. I’m sure that’s why there’s such competition in the stock market as well. But it’s a part of our instinct, so maybe it’s worse to deny it… everything in moderation, right?

    Thanks for the luck. I’ll share if I win! 😛

  3. Unfortunately, I paid rather too much attention to probability theory to believe in luck.
    Was I lucky to only suffered a broken clavicle when knocked off my bike? Or was I statistically unlikely to suffer a worse injury in that specific set of circumstances?

    CJ: As someone who’s studied science and mathematics for my writing, I feel that probability theory and likelihood function can explain away most things. So I know what you mean, Stone. At the same time, though, I think we all have that quality (or maybe it’s a perception?) of luck in smaller things… coincidences that we could explain away, but for most of us just happen.

    If someone wins the lottery, for instance, they might have had odds of 3,00,000 to 1. Now if that many people bought a ticket, we’d expect someone to win. But why does that person have to be me, just because it had to be someone? Why couldn’t that be my neighbour who’s bought a ticket for the last ten years? It’s random, but for me there’s still an element of some luck as well, or at least the perception of it… it depends how deeply you’re willing to look, and I guess I like keeping a bit of the mystery. 😉

  4. Oops, I’m typing with one hand and keep hitting the wrong keys.

    I was going to say, was it luck that I did not have our youngest boy with me? Or was it mathematically improbable that I’d have him with me on that day of the week and at that time?

    Sorry, but luck doesn’t hold much attraction for me.

    CJ: Don’t worry, I knew what you meant, Stone. And I was very sorry to hear about your being knocked down; I read it a couple of days ago but after so many comments I thought I’d wait until you did a follow up, and then I was too busy over the weekend. It sounds horrible and I’m still stunned over the vitriol that’s been directed at you. Whatever people think of a person, it was a crime; if they hate your blog that much, why do they read it?

    In my experience I would say that you’re right, there’s no luck in what happened. Thank goodness your son wasn’t with you at that time, and that it didn’t cause a pileup with others if you’d just been a bit closer to the village. But maybe there’s a little bit of luck that the right people were still there to help you when you got to the school… although even that probably goes to the kindness of people more, and that it was still busy at that time.

    My thoughts are with you, Stone, and I hope you heal quickly.

  5. I would be so lucky! 😀

    The doctor said, “You realise you won’t heal so well or so quickly as when you were 16”.

    Thanks for that, doc.

    CJ: Sounds like an uplifting doctor! I don’t suppose they have a hyperbaric chamber in the village at all, do they? 🙂

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