Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Life Goes on Long After the Thrill of Living is Gone

It seems bizarre that only a year ago, less than really, I was putting up a fresh post every day. Often I would put up more than one a day. I was on fire. Blog 365 was my bitch and I was pimping her out like, well, a pimp. Now gaps of a week without a new post seem all too common, and it sucks. I genuinely felt better about myself last year when I forced myself to write daily. I like to think I became a better writer by going through the extra effort. Sure, I ended up producing a lot of junk posts to get something up when I needed it, but the end result was that it was worth it and I'm better off for having done it.

The problem is that now I don't force myself to slog out those bad ideas. Last year, I wrote through writer's block. I wrote about anything I could think of, even if it didn't even interest me that much just to get the post up before midnight. The funny thing was that by doing that, I actually had fewer days where I just couldn't think of anything worth writing.

But to keep this from being a pointless post about not posting, I'm going to talk about the lottery. It embarrasses me a little to admit that I occasionally play the lottery. Whenever I notice the Mega Millions jackpot has gone over $100 million, I'll buy a ticket. I know its still stupid. I know that the chance of my winning is so low that it might as well be no chance, but I play. I rationalize it by telling myself that the lottery money is managed pretty well in my state, and it's true that education in this state has benefited from the lottery money. The lottery here hasn't become the cause of funding problems like it had in states where they used lottery money to replace education funds instead of using it only to create new educational programs that couldn't be funded without the revenue it generated. I've personally benefited greatly from millions of poor people hoping for a better life. The lottery funded the distance learning lab that allowed me to take advanced classes and college courses that I would not have otherwise been able to take in my tiny high school about 40 miles away from the nearest university. The scholarship program funded by the lottery also kept me from having any student loan debt when I graduated back in 2001. Sure, there are starting to be some funding shortages in these programs, but the fact of the matter is that these programs wouldn't exist at all if it were not for the lottery.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I entirely support the system. It feeds far too much on the poor and the desperate and helps the middle class and wealthy disproportionately. That's the exact opposite direction the flow should go. No one really benefits from taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Everyone benefits when you move the poor up the socioeconomic ladder, if only because there are more consumers who can actually afford the crap you're trying to sell them.

Of course, I'm not one of those poor who are preyed upon by the lottery. I'm actually part of the middle class it disproportionately helps, so I can afford to drop the rare $5 for a ticket. I'll never match what the lottery did for my education, so it's not like I'm entirely wasting my money. Part of my money goes to help education in my state, something I genuinely care about despite hating my job in that field, and part of the money goes to fund my daydreaming.

In case you haven't already assumed this about me, I spend an awful lot of time with my head in the clouds. I actually have a very detailed plan, several really, for what I would do should I ever be faced with the opportunity to have three wishes to come true. I have my winning the big jackpot scenario planned out pretty well too. Will it ever do me any good? More than likely not. Does it do me any harm? I honestly don't know. Do I avoid making difficult real life decisions because I'm secretly holding out for the lottery to wash all of my problems away? I really hope not, but I can't honestly say that I know for sure that these dreams don't somehow color my decisions in some very small way. Would my life be better off without these daydreams? Maybe. It's easy to assume that if I didn't spend so much time dreaming of a life where I spent more time eating lunch than working a real job that I'd possibly be happy with my real life, but is there any chance that I'd be able to stop myself from daydreaming? Not a chance in hell. I've written before of my need from dreams; maybe I need my daydreams just as much. Maybe I'm just not wired to function entirely in reality. I'm not even sure my quality of life would be as good without it.


Julie said...

I'll play every once in a while. Usually when the jackpots are really high and my chances are particularly low. I haven't ever daydreamed about spending the winnings, though. I just know it would be 1) trip to safety deposit box 2) trip to lawyer. Guess I'm not really creative.

Chris said...

I hear you about the chronic daydreaming. Believe it or not, I'm guilty of spending much of my time avoiding reality too, especially with regard to my career.

Speaking of which (and this is a coincidentally genius tie-in to the first portion of your post), I have registered to participate this year in NaNoWriMo. It's National Novel Writing Month. You write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Yes, that means you have to write really fast, and yes, that means it's going to really suck. But at the end, you get to say you successfully wrote (a rough draft of) a novel in one month.

So, point is, I think you should join me: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

What do you think? You could post occasional selections of the work on your blog.

Jacob said...

My cousin did NaNoWriMo last year. I'll have to see what he thought about it. I may give it a try.

Jacob said...

But this is a bad year for it. I'm spending about four hours a day after work for three-to-four days a week working on masters classes. I don't know if I could fit 1666 and 2/3 words a day on top of that.

Chris said...

Ah, yeah that would be tough. I can cheat and do some of my writing during the workday. Even then, I'll probably modify the calendar and start my 30 days in late October, so that I'm done before Thanksgiving, which is a busy several days of family stuff for us.

A Free Man said...

I know what you mean about the writing. I'm doing less of it and when I do, I feel like it isn't very good. Daily blogging really does improve your writing. But it is also a damn hard thing to maintain.

A Free Man said...

Oh and the lottery. Never play it. It is a tax on the poor. And the stupid. And gambling addicts. I know it has its benefits, but as a hard core leftist I would rather tax the rich and middle class - yes, including myself.

courtney said...

You did become a better writer in the course of Blog 365. I noticed a marked improvement over the course of the year. Not that your posts were bad before; they were just much better the more you wrote.

I don't know about the lottery. I can see how it preys on the poor, but I also directly benefited from the scholarship it provides, as did many of my friends. I never play it, but that's just because I know I'll never win, not because I'm morally opposed to it.