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  • Jake Russell

Football, Death and Winning The Lottery

Hi everyone,


I had something completely different in mind for today, but there’s a blog I read every morning – about football, as it happens (and even though my relationship with football has changed quite a bit over the years, from playing, watching and following it with a fervent, albeit quiet, obsession, and I mean that genuinely because I was, I think, borderline clinically obsessed at one stage…when I was about 15 almost every inch of my bedroom walls were covered with posters of just one Arsenal player, Ian Wright, who I just completely loved, and so invested was I in him getting selected for the 1998 World Cup squad that his fate became somehow entwined with my own, and unless I stood by my bedroom door and nodded to every single poster in a very particular order while whispering a kind of prayer about him staying healthy and successful then his and my lives would suffer, I was convinced, which made leaving my room and then remembering something I’d forgotten, like my school bag or whatever, a proper pain in the arse because I had to go back in to fetch it and go through the whole mad fucking ritual again) but yes, even though my relationship to football has changed somewhat since that strained, compulsive time, in that I no longer play it and hardly ever even watch it nowadays, let alone stand at my door and bow 97 times to the one same idol lest the world fall on my head, I do still enjoy reading a blog about Arsenal each morning.


I’ve come to enjoy it as much for the guy who writes it as for what he writes about. He’s a proper football bloke which isn’t really my thing, but it’s clear he has genuine heart, warmth and humour, and I admire him for having created something from scratch that he loves, and turned it into his life's work, making a living from it and contributing something joyful and meaningful to loads of people.


That, even if it is about something so trivial, in the grand scheme of things, as football, is totally wonderful isn’t it? To turn your passion into your vocation, your mission into making a living, so that others benefit with you. I believe it’s what the Japanese call ikigai. And it’s got to be the winning lottery ticket, doesn’t it?


This guy’s blog piece today wasn’t about football, not ostensibly, but about his dad who’s just died. And I don’t know the blogger, or his dad, personally in any way but it, unsurprisingly, moved me.


Strangely I dreamt of my dad last night. I dreamt it was his funeral, which also happened to be my school assembly, and my mum who doesn’t drink who might’ve also been my aunt was hunting madly for Chambord, of all things, and all I wanted to do was get out of the packed funeral-school assembly and go back to my hotel room for a nap. I’ve dreamt about my dad a lot recently. And so waking up from another one about him, or his death, to read about the blogger’s dad has me in a somewhat sentimental mood, and made me want to write all this.


It’s made me feel truly grateful to be alive, to be here, to be typing away on my laptop from my bed at 9.30am on a semi-lazy Monday morning before I start my work with the people I work with, whom I’ve come to care about greatly, to be lucky enough to be here, in this life, in this time of truly wondrous choice and luxury and technology and medicine and food and connectivity and complexity and information and education and freedom and tolerance and learning and advancement and experimentation and openness and light rather than in any number of other times and lives that are restricted by and filled with darkness and suffering, and that more and more, despite my own internal noise and nonsense, which we all have to one degree or another, I feel like I’m in possession of my own winning lottery ticket too.


So, may you be well, may you be healthy, may you all be winning the lottery.


Much love to everyone and especially Ian Wright (who never did get selected for the 1998 world cup in the end, but you know what, it all turned out ok anyway),


Jake xx

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