Make Your Own Luck

September 1, 2010

Confession: I have never been to Las Vegas. In fact, I’ve never even been to a casino.

Never have I pulled the lever on a slot machine; never have I tossed a set of dice on to a felt-covered table; and never have I lost track of the time in the bowels of a glitzy neon establishment, fueled by recycled air and free well-drinks.

Not for lack of proximity, au contraire, there are several casinos within mere hours of where I live. It’s just that I can’t bring myself to gamble with money. I don’t play cards for money, I don’t spin wheels for money, I don’t buy raffle tickets, and I don’t take anyones bets for anything, regardless of my certainty on the outcome. Neither of my parents were “gambling addicts,” nor are they in any way against it. It’s just a weird mental block I have. Deep in my psyche there is a voice that staunchly, and without compromise, prevents me from taking any of those definitive risks with my cash. I don’t even have a dime in the stock market. I just can’t do it.

Now, it could be argued that any time you spend your money, you are taking a risk. And that much is true to an extent, but when a transaction occurs and goods exchanged there is a level of tangibility. Even with online goods. Even with movie rentals, or concerts– which you don’t get to keep. I don’t think twice about spending $8 on a monster burrito, or the extra $2 to get organic foods. Rarely do I hesitate to purchase a $.99 app, or drop a dollar for a busker. In my mind, there is a reward for each of these scenarios, I am receiving a good or service (quality aside). With gambling, there is no guarantee– could be double or nothing.

I believe my aversion to financial risk-taking is rooted in my abhorrence of math and money in general. I just don’t understand it, none of it has ever made any sense. It bounces around my brain wildly, only to be regurgitated in a jumble of incorrect calculation and questionable logistics.

All I do know is that to live comfortably in capitalized America, I need money. To get money, I have to work. And working is not party time, even if it’s not treachery. Simply put, earning money is work.

Another word for gambling is “gaming.” A game is something you play. Gambling is, by definition, playing with money; winning means being awarded more money, losing means having your money taken away.

I know this all sounds incredibly redundant, but when I break it down to the basics, I can still find no appeal to gambling. I don’t even play carnival games, or the claw machine at the supermarket. When I invest, I want at least some type of guaranteed return– even if it’s just karmic. With gambling I don’t see most people leaving winners, otherwise casinos would probably be out of business, no?  I don’t imagine anyone there getting warm-fuzzies from knowing their cash is going to some noble cause. People just walk in, turn their government issued tender into plastic pieces with silly cartoons and fun colors, and toss it around as though it’s no longer the hour spent at their desk on Tuesday afternoon.

Gambling is about winning, if you are not winning, you are losing. In most sports, etc, it’s arguably “about playing the game,” but with gambling winning is the game. Spending money to sit in a chair spending money is not entertaining to me, and it seems a very strange attitude for a culture that laments a $.07 hike in gas prices.

Or, maybe I have this perspective because I am a loser.  I’m not trying to get down on myself here, I am simply speaking the truth.

While many find lady luck seductive, I find her management of my finances even worse than my own. You hire a landscaper for landscaping, not for accounting advice. I play games to have fun, laugh with my friends, and forget about responsibility– not lose my money (ie: time and effort). My luck has never come in the form of financial windfall, and I believe it’s best to accept this about myself than to fight it. My brand of luck is the sort that comes from contributing to the cosmic energy pool, not the financial one. My luck comes in strange coincidence and fortunate occurrences.

There is the guy who wins the lottery twice, then there is the guy who gets struck by lightning twice, and lives. I am more likely to be in that latter category, but as long as I don’t have to place any bets first, I’ll take luck however I can get it!