Hope is double-edged; it drives you, beckons you from an illusory land.

I had the most random encounter last Thursday on my way home from a mani-pedi that my sweet friend had gifted me for my birthday. In a rather lucid state, a dreamy post-pampered reverie, I headed down Ocean Boulevard. Starvation coupled with low blood sugar struck me rather quickly (I love FrenchRose’, but not usually the morning after).Impulsively I veered onto a side street next to a little deli which offered “American” and “Vietnamese” sandwiches. Ididn’t choose the sandwich shop; it chose me.

Next to me sat a twenty-something in a pin-striped oxford shirt, blue blazer and white corduroy pants. He lookedsilver-spooned and quirky. In front of him sat astack of lottery Scratchers that apparently still held the promise of millions. Next to those sat a stack of promises already scratched. His fingers were stained grey, his nose smudged with blue.

“Did you win?” I asked. I was halfway through my ham and cheese and he intrigued me, his small mounds of grey dust, his scratching-wiping zen state.

“A little,” he said.

“Do you hope to?” I was thinking about the $150 I once spent on Powerball.

“Yeah, I guess so. It’s more about the rush, the feeling of adrenaline.”

He shared a lottery story, the surge he’d felt when he realized his numbers lined up. He’d won. I’m not sure how much. He looked like a young man from an affluent family, an image you might not couple with lottery games bought from corner convenient marts.

He said he spent thousands on Scratchers. “But I’mpragmatic. I’maction-oriented.Don’t ever lose yourmomentum.”

I asked what he did.

“I have a company that invests in startups.”

That’s hopeful.

Did I believe this interesting young man? Who pinched a coin between stainedfingers, spent thousands on California Lottery Double Match,and spoke of venture capital?

The conversation stayed with me. I told him he had helped me with the theme for my blog. In light of it, I see that hope has way of binding us, of vaulting us forward simultaneously. It also has a habit of rearing itself in random sandwich shops while doubling as thrill.

About The Author

Cynthia Vale is a budding scholar and doctoral student in Transformative Inquiry at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She writes the dot429 philosophy blog. You can reach Cynthia at

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