A Word

Confession time: I like to gamble.  No, I love to gamble.  I always have.  I think I’m pretty good at it, too.  I’m not sure I can call myself a gambler, and whether or not I could ever actually be a professional, well, let’s not go crazy, right?

But I love it.  There was a time, not long ago, when I really thought I could be a professional gambler, that I could be successful enough at gambling to actually go out there and make something of myself by gambling.  I did what every serious gambler does.  I studied other gamblers, learning from them, their tells, the way they read the cards.  And, of course, I gambled.  A lot, every chance I could get.  Because that’s really the only way to hone your gambling skills.  So I did.  Sometimes I didn’t really want to, but I made myself.

But the thing is, if I know one thing from gambling, it how odds work.  No matter how good a gambler you are, success or failure is, in the end, a matter of luck.  And, let’s be realistic about this, setting an objective to go out and become rich and famous as a gambler is, well, pretty stupid.  Not that it can’t be done, but anyone who sets out specifically to do so probably isn’t going to make it.  So why, then, do I gamble?

The answer is simple: I love it.  I love to gamble.  Even when I’m losing, even when I know I have no chance of winning at all, it’s still fun, and that’s really what it’s all about.  Sometimes the urge to gamble is so strong I can’t help myself.  I hang out with other gamblers just to enjoy their experiences and to learn from them.  And perhaps they learn from me as well.  But even if I didn’t have them, I’d still gamble.  For myself.  I can’t not gamble.  I’ll come home from work and fire up the computer, logging on to an internet poker site because I just have to see what the cards say.  I’m sometimes distracted at work because I can’t stop thinking about the last hand, or the next one.  Gambling consumes me.

I guess, by that measure, I am a gambler.  Someone who gambles.  It doesn’t matter if I win.  It’s not about winning, it’s about gambling.  And I spend a lot of time doing it.  Gambling, that is, not winning.  I know, it’s time I could have spent doing other, more “productive” things.  But I don’t consider it time wasted.  It’s never wasted when you have the cards in your hand.  When I gamble, that’s when I feel really alive, and I make no apologies.  I’m proud of the gambling I do, and I don’t think life would be worth living if I couldn’t gamble.

Wait, what am I hearing?  That’s a lot of negative reaction.  Why so much concern?  You should be patting me on the back, encouraging me to keep gambling, to ignore the odds and just lay it on the line.  You should be telling me I should be proud of how much time I’ve spent gambling, even if I’ve never won a hand.

So why are you shaking your heads?  Why are you saying I have a problem?  Why are you getting ready to post the phone number of a 12-step program?  Why are you telling me I need to get this unhealthy, destructive obsession under control before if ruins my life (and the lives of my loved ones)?  Why on earth should I think there’s something wrong with me just because I love to…

Oh, I see.  I made a typo.  I’m so sorry.  Somehow I put the wrong word.  I didn’t mean “gambling.”

I meant “writing.”

Yeah.  I’ve already posted this, so if you could please go though and replace every instance of the word “gamble” with the word “write.”  There we go.  Now it makes sense, right?  That changes everything.

Isn’t it funny how being totally dedicated to one pursuit in the face of almost certain futility is admirable, inspiring even, whereas the exact same drive towards a different activity is an unmistakable indication that one has a very serious problem?  A sickness. I’m sure you can forgive me for the error.

Because, frankly, I fail to see the distinction.

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