Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

A Little Luck And A Lottery Result.

The main reason that I believe life is absurd, accept it as such, and just embrace it, is that there are so many examples of things that are inexplicable any other way, things that can’t easily be defined within the confines of our collective knowledge. I’m not talking about things to which we attribute meaning either – the phone rings just as you’re thinking about the person on the other end: that’s because we discount all the times that the phone rings and we aren‘t thinking about the person who has made the call. I see as absurd the almighty coincidences that are much harder to explain away, like the one I’m going to document here.

I play the lottery (a term I use to also include the EuroMillions game) on occasion, maybe three or four times a year. As someone who studied and enjoyed studying maths at school, and who remembers when the lottery first started and when – as an exercise in fourth year – we were shown how to mathematically prove the much-publicised assertion that the odds of winning were fourteen million to one, I am fully aware of the futility of my playing pattern. Specifically, I remember learning about probability, and the chances of (for example) rolling any given sequence of numbers on a die – the odds increase with every roll. So the chances of me picking the winning combination of numbers – already astronomically high – are magnified significantly by the chance of me then also choosing the right week to actually play those numbers. If I changed my numbers too, that would further increase the odds of ever winning. So far, to nobody’s surprise (least of all my own), I have won nothing – literally nothing.

The numbers I play are usually consistent, save for the difference in draws – six numbers for the original game, five and two stars for the EuroMillions game. Usually, because every now and then I forget which combination I play – the past few times I’ve played as a main number one that is also a star, and so I could play it there and add in the omitted sixth number from the regular game. I only realised this recently. All of my numbers relate to birthdays of two members of my family – days, shared month, years – and one additional number which I chose for reasons I can’t remember, but which relates vaguely to the house I grew up in. There wasn’t a great deal of thought went into my numbers – I didn’t want to think then over-think my choices – and I never actually checked the year of birth of my Grandma, just guessed at what I thought it might be. I was wrong.

At a family meal on Sunday, my sister asked my dad what age my Grandma had been when she died. This reminded me, prompting me to ask what year she had been born. He thinks it was 1922, making my rough guess two years out.

When I was at the supermarket on Tuesday, I passed the lottery desk on my way out the store, then doubled back on a whim and put a line on – changing that one number. Later that night, I got three numbers came up in the draw, and won just over a fiver.

This is just one small example in a lifetime of other occurrences, equally freakish – in all the years I’ve played the wrong number, I haven’t won a thing. The week I change it accordingly, I win something. There’s probably some rational explanation in the grand scheme of things, but at this level we’ve no way of knowing what that might be – easier to just take it in stride. And hope for a bigger win next time.

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