Just the other day, I was telling a friend about events that allowed me to return to North Carolina and find work I love which is writing. She commented how lucky I was. That left me feeling ambivalent. I want to take credit for my current situation and don’t like the idea that my life was up to chance. So it got me thinking about luck. Then a couple of true stories of people I know came to mind. One is about good luck; the other, bad.
The first story is about Barbara, a girl that lived in my neighborhood. She grew up in a dysfunctional house; both her parents were bad alcoholics. Things got so bad that Barbara ran away from home at fourteen. She didn’t run far away. Having no clue where to go, she slept at night in the laundry room of her apartment building. During the day, she wandered around town trying to figure out her next move. On the second day, with the little money that she had, she bought a lottery ticket. A couple days later, she won $50,000. Then she contacted a boarding school, explained her situation, got admitted and used her winnings to pay for education room and board. She studied hard and continued onto college and then embarked into a successful business career.
Then there is Jim, a boy who went to my high school who appeared to be cursed. Everything he did or tried ended up as a disaster. Though a lot of the kids in school made fun of him, I liked Jim. He was a good kid that tried to fit in. He was just a very clumsy and had a whole lot of bad luck. Come graduation time, he had surprisingly found a girl that would be his date and ended up joining our group for dinner before the dance. When Jim showed up with this date, I thought he looked different, not the usual awkward guy trying so hard to fit in and scared to make a mistake. I thought to myself that maybe his luck was finally changing.
After our group was seated at the restaurant, I observed Jim again and couldn’t get over how well he was doing. Jim was even telling funny stories and making us laugh. Everything was going so well, until the main course, roast beef, arrived. Jim was in the middle of a story, building it up. While he was talking, he cut a piece of meat and brought the fork to his mouth. Unfortunately, there was still a piece of fat connecting the piece on his fork to the slab of meat on his plate. When he lifted the work to his mouth, the string of fat stretched like a rubber band and then yanked the slab of beef out of the plate and straight onto his clean white shirt. Everyone burst out laughing. Poor Jim, he was still cursed.
Looking at my own life, I see many events that were lucky and unlucky. Sometimes these events were isolated, other times they came in waves, good and bad. So now I'm asking myself how much of the good outcomes were the result of my own actions versus being in the right place at the right time. I can say that I have always tried my best in life. But some things seemed to have just dropped into my lap. I guess it’s kind of partnership between the universe and me, a kind of a dance. I think the following quote sums it up best:
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” (Seneca)