Like B.C and A.D., the lottery divided my life on earth into two distinct parts: before this and after this. In advance of the lottery, military experts had informed us that people with numbers lower than about 150 were sure to be drafted. My number was 83. Thus I was forced to consider, at age 20, the near-certainty that after graduation I was going straight to Vietnam, and that I might die.

I decided to forego the student deferral process beginning the next quarter and take my chances. I reasoned that I would be better off going to Vietnam before I graduated than postponing the inevitable until after graduation. At the same time, President Nixon was winding down the war in Vietnam, so in the end my number was never called, but the thought process that I went through matured me in a hurry. For a calendar year, I believed that my life would end in a matter of months. That may sound like torture, but looking back on it, it wasn’t. In fact, it’s a part of my maturation process that I cherish, and one of my regrets in life is that I did not serve in the military.