During the summer I often find myself traveling from my apartment to my hometown. Most of the time the drive consists of podcasts, punk music and cornfields for two straight hours, but this last trip I had an interesting experience, a personal realization.
I have a routine every trip I take back home. I stop at the same gas station, fill up my tank, and purchase two lottery tickets (you know, the dollar scratch-offs you get for your 18th birthday and Christmas).
My lottery ticket rules are as follows; I spend two dollars on the cheapest scratch-offs I can find and dispense them from the first two buttons I glance at. I like to think that luck chooses those who ask.
This past trip started like any other. I purchased the tickets, stuffed them into my pocket, paid for my gas and drink, then exited the store.
After settling into my car, I scratched off the first ticket. To no surprise it was a dud. I reached into my pocket for a second chance, but to my disbelief the lottery ticket wasn’t there.
Thoughts began to race in my mind while I walked back into the gas station. Did I really just lose my winning ticket of $500 a week for life? After a triple pass-over around the lottery machine, the store floor, and even asking the attendant on duty, I went back to my car empty handed.
Driving off disappointed, I pulled onto the highway perplexed. Where did my ticket go? I could only imagine it in the shirt pocket of a trucker, cackling to himself down the interstate. But after a few minutes of running the scenario through my mind, I burst out laughing. Did I really just freak out over a dollar scratch-off ticket?
Then it hit me; I don’t play in hopes of making money, but I do it out of curiosity. Maybe one dollar could change my life. I could have a nice financial padding until I graduate and go on a cross-country vacation. But this last experience threw me for a loop and instead bought me some self reflection.
How often is the hope of a scratch and win life changing event the ultimate motivation for your curiosity? Don’t wait for the wakeup call, everyday is a brand new “ticket” that we have the chance to explore and experience. I know this simple little moment gave me a good reminder of what matters most, and it will be playing in my head the next time I put two dollars into the machine (a guy can dream, right?).