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? 🙂