As I start to write this piece, it’s just before 7pm on Saturday 13th August. Despite owning a ticket for the UK National Lottery draw at 8pm tonight, I will be pleased if I find out that I have not won, and so too should you if you also find out you have not won. In fact you and I and indeed all of us should be thankful, because it will mean we have survived until 8pm. You see the odds of winning the UK lottery, approximately 14,000,000 to 1 are around the same odds that you or I will not have died in the run up to the lottery draw.
According to Ronnie Bowie, the former President of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries as reported on the BBC Radio 4’s More or Less programme broadcast yesterday, buying a lottery ticket anything more than an hour or so before the draw is risky if you are middle aged like me, because you are more likely to die during the hour in the run up to the draw than you are of winning the lottery itself. In fact only males under the age of 19 and females under the age of 37 have slightly less statistical risk of dying in the hour before lottery draw than they have of winning it.
So regardless of whether you think winning the lottery will make you happier (odds are it probably won’t even if you did win), the chances of doing so are so small compared to the risk of you dying, that to live to find you are one of the millions of ticket holders who have not won today should be a cause for rejoice. For to have lived thus far means you get to live a little while longer, well, at least for another hour or so. Make the most of every moment you have. There is only this moment, and it will last a lifetime.
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.