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Read Letter

Gambler’s Instinct

Dear Jil,

Don’t know if you’ve ever been to Vegas? How was Valentine by the way? I couldn’t visit Vegas for many years because of its glitzy, chintzy consumerism. Vegas is casino republic. That had little appeal for me. I prefer cities with ‘soul’ – cities with culture. But then I visited Vegas in December as a contra culture exploration. The weather helped nudge me. I’m not a fan of winter.

Well, Vegas lived up to its billing. There are slot machines right next to the baggage conveyor belt at airport arrival! Just a little bit of gambling while you wait for your luggage. A profound understanding of gambler’s instinct. I want you to keep that phrase in your pocket – Gambler’s instinct. We’ll talk about it later.

The expansive lobby of my hotel looked more like a casino supermarket. The air was stale with gambling lust. In fact it seemed the check-in part of the lobby was an after-thought, an architectural addendum. What a sight! As you look Abrahamically to the North, South, East and West… slot machines, roulette tables everywhere! There are gambling machines of every hue and shade, full of witty inventions, themed and digital. Michael Jackson theme machines, Indiana Jones, Star Wars… name it. Every cultural meme… It soon became obvious that Vegas is a gambling universe. Everything orbited gravitationally around gambling. Go for chicken wings and there’s a slot machine near you. Go for water and there’s a roulette table smiling at you. The whole city is a gambling theme park – a gambler’s Disney resort. No day, no night. The city will make a good study in mass addiction.

Watched a documentary about a guy who gambled, ran into debt – then borrowed money from loan sharks. He lost that loan to gambling, whereupon he decided to rob a bank – not to pay his debts, but to gamble again! That’s how addictive gambling can be. The slot machines are a 24-hour economy. The machines never sleep. Oh, I could tell you a lot from my observations but the reason I brought up Vegas is for analogy.

Remember that phrase I told you keep – Gambler’s instinct? Well some people approach their relationship with it. A gambler risks everything. He keeps pushing the limits until he loses all. A relationship gambler does the same. She keeps pushing the envelope of bad behaviour, risking what she has. She does this because she has the belief the partner can never leave, or can’t afford to leave – has nowhere to go. There are usually all sorts of permutations and calculations behind such thinking. The calculation may be financial – if the partner is economically dependent where’s he or she going to go? It may be emotional. If the partner is highly emotionally invested it’ll be hard to leave.

There’s something called first love / first sex syndrome. These are high emotional investments particularly for women. The calculation may be religious. Religion is exploited. Because the partner’s religion frowns on divorce the marriage is turned into an emotional gulag. There’s usually a streak of meanness, even wickedness involved in this.

The permutation may also be PR based. That the partner “won’t dare” leave because the public relations cost will be too high. And sometimes the gambler knows the partner can’t afford to leave, literally. He knows the cost of starting all over again is daunting and so tauntingly treats his partner badly based on that knowledge.

The calculation can also stem from heritage. He married into a powerful family. Risks social demobilisation if he exits. Some calculations are based on held secrets. The partner risks exposure if he or she attempts to leave. And some just permute from the length of the relationship. The longer it is the more the disdainful treatment.

Buoyed by these calculations and permutations the relationship gambler keeps pushing envelopes and boundaries: selfishness, self-centeredness, uncare, taking the other for granted, crass advantageousness, economic fleecing… The truth however is that most times the hubris is based on nothing but pride. And it keeps running on pride. And some people derive their confidence from investment in black magic. Some from the power of seduction. Whatever the source of faith – hubris, seductive power, black magic – there’s a consistency of philosophy: The partner is tied down, he or she can’t leave, won’t dare, hence licentiousness, ill treatment and impunity. This can go on for years. Until… one fateful day… the partner decides he’s had enough, she’s had enough. And leaves. The unimaginable happens and the come comes to become. Oppression can’t last forever. Hubris like Icarus flies too close to the sun.

If the cost of staying far outweighs the cost of leaving the equation always changes. And if the partner no longer cares, or his or her life is threatened, all the selfish calculations go out of whack! If the boundaries have been outrageously pushed beyond accommodative limits the relationship ceases to make sense. The truth is that most times those who assume others can’t afford to leave are the ones who can’t afford to lose. And that’s how some people lose the perfect man or woman in their lives. That’s how they lose God’s blessings. They gambled too far with their relationship. They are denizens of Vegas.

It is important to properly appraise what one has. To come to an appreciation after loss is tragic. Stop gambling with your relationship. Pull back. You may end up with regrets the rest of your life. If you have a good man why despise what you have? If you have a good woman why sit in the seat of the scornful? Don’t listen to the counsel of the ungodly. Run from “friends” who paint good bad. When people goad you to lose a good man or woman check what they have! They’re envious! If you lose that good woman or that good man in your life you’ll end up with Esau’s remorse. There is a type of woman a man should not lose. There is a type of man a woman should not lose. That you have gambler’s instinct in the first place means it’s going to take an extraordinary person to love you. That man or woman is nothing but grace from God. Don’t turn your grace to chips. Don’t gamble your grace.

That man you’re taking for granted, are you really ready to lose him? Think hard. That woman you’re taking for granted, are you really ready to lose her? Think well. She can’t leave… he can’t leave… What if he leaves? What if she leaves?

Yours sincerely and truthfully, LA


©Leke Alder 2014

Tags : Gambler, Instinct, Self-centeredness

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