So, I don't know if you've heard, but on January 13th, 2016, the United States government gave away 1.6 billion dollars in the largest cash lottery in recorded history.
Actually, I'm not sure how you could have not heard. Maybe you could have been in the midst of a month long information fast, hiding in cupboard somewhere? It was on almost every television channel, people speculating about the odds, tracking celebrity ticket purchases, and, in small mostly ignored pockets of the conversation, some people even wondering if a wildly fluctuating revenue source like a lottery is really the best way to fund education.
It seemed like everywhere I went people were talking about the lottery. Walking down the alley to my apartment I overheard two disheveled smokers debating whether they would take the 30 year annuity or the lump sum. On Facebook people were committing (or pretending commitment) to share their winnings with everyone who liked or shared their post.
Maybe you bought a ticket, or even a couple. I saw one guy who was really excited about the 540 tickets that he bought. If you did buy a ticket, the chances are pretty good that you didn't win. You might still be a little despondent about those little balls not bouncing your way. You don't need to be.
Because losing that lottery could be the best thing to happen to you this year.
As some of our loyal readership are no doubt aware, I have a nephew who is the sum of all things precocious and adorable. On occasion, when people fawn over his impish grin and dazzling deep blue eyes, they suggest that he takes after his uncle, which is how I discovered what being flattered feels like, that sense of being praised or honored beyond one's merit. That's rare for me, because no one thinks higher of me than I do.
Flattery feels great, by the way, like being surprised by awesomeness you didn't know you had. It's intoxicating to watch the little bundle of delight charm entire rooms with his winsome ease, and then think that I might have in some way contributed to that. Having met both of his remarkable parents, though, I think it's both more likely and more fortunate that he is the harmonious blend of their distinct brilliance. Without feeling the need to claim responsibility, there is a particular trait that my nephew and I share which I would like to discuss today.
We are both obsessed with counting things.
I don't think we're alone in that regard. As a culture, we seem to have become enraptured with the quantification of quality.
Thoughts on culture, community, and development.