Why gamble?

Watching big-screen adaptations of anything in print, such as the Harry Potter books, is like going to a casino with bad luck hanging over your head: you know you never win anything, and yet you’re hell-bent on taking a gamble anyway. The movies have never really gone by the books — with The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire deviating from the books to an appalling degree (although The Deathly Hallows, The Order of the Phoenix and The Chamber of Secrets actually made commendable efforts to stick to the original story, and the changes made to it were comparably few and nondescript) — and yet we watch them, either because of all the hype or because we know the books back to front and we want to see for ourselves how close the movies come to the books.

Why do people gamble? In a world where money is so fluid, how do we know how safe it is to risk (almost) everything we have just for all that brouhaha? We scan the room for a table that could make us potential millionaires, and we put our money into it in the hopes that we gain something. When we see something coming back, that’s when the stakes get higher, and we put more into the game, hoping that we’ll get more back. And even when we begin to realize that we may end up losing everything, we keep going, determined to redeem ourselves and at least be able to keep a tiny bit of the money that we gambled.

The exact same thing can be said for relationships. We scan the world (or the streets) for that person who could be a potential Somebody in our lives, and we put our time and effort into it in the hopes of turning it into something positive. When we see the slightest bit of progress, our hopes get higher, and we put more time and effort into it. And when this person happens to be someone we really, really like, we choose to ignore all the bad signs that it might not work out the way we want it to, and we soldier on, desperate to salvage what we thought could have been at least a semi-decent relationship, and trying our hardest to hold on to that last shred of effort that we put in (not to mention our dignity).

So when is it time to stop gambling? When we sense that we’re about to lose everything? Or do we cross all fingers and toes, keep playing, hope that we’ll get some of it back, and then stop only when we have no other choice? Or do we just play it safe and not gamble at all? Not gambling leads us to either breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t lose as much as everyone else did, or wish with all our hearts that we had dared to try our luck and end up among the few fortunate ones. So maybe the important question isn’t why or how much we gamble. Maybe it’s when to pull our highest bet — our hearts — off the table.

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