Two things happened last week that started me thinking about luck. First, I drove past a house that had an upside-down horse-shoe nailed over the door, with all their luck pouring out; in horror I wondered, did they know what they were doing, or worse, not care? Second, I read an intriguing interview with David Lindsay-Abaire on his new Broadway play “Good People,”                   

“I’ve worked really hard, but I know people who have worked even harder but didn’t have the chances I’ve had…We have this myth that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. It’s not a very American thing to say, but I don’t think that’s true. It’s true for a lot of people, but you need other things to succeed. You need luck, you need opportunity, and you need the life skills to recognize what an opportunity is” (“A Return to Southie, by Way of Broadway.” New York Times. 2/6/11).

Lindsay-Abaire isn’t the only one to tie luck to hard work; Thomas Jefferson stated, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” Hard to argue with. But generally speaking, those who make such statements aren’t doing the hard physical labor. Like those who laid the rails. Or struggle in our mines. Or cook in our kitchens. Those workers don’t appear lucky to me. Yet, I guess Jefferson and plenty of other smart folks have a point about drive and toiling toward serendipity…

Curiously, there is another conviction, that one is responsible for creating good fortune for ourself. This belief is echoed by celebrated heros: “The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself” (Douglas MacArthur). But is this really luck, if you orchestrate the riches or position or whatever it is that you are feeling lucky about? I mean, isn’t the whole point of luck that it falls into your path? Seems very trendy right now, this wishing and manifesting, this control over fortuity that has captured our cultural imagination. We can even buy apps for our iPhone to daily remind us to be among the millions world-wide to transform an otherwise inauspicious life, and for only $4.99! (The Secret Daily Teachings for iPhone). Apparently, although money can’t buy you love, it can navigate you to a life filled with intentional luck…

At some point in anyone’s musings on luck, you have to consider the Irish, who have expression after expression on the subject. “May good luck be your friend in whatever you do and may trouble be always a stranger to you,” Even blessings, “For each petal on the shamrock this brings a wish your way: good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day.” Such a mystery to me, since by any account the Irish don’t seem to have much luck at all, do they? Yet, as far as cultures go, the Irish have lined the shelves on the topic of luck. Ostensibly, no despair can be felt for too long if you know an Irishman…

But what about bad luck, the kind that often arrives in droves? Some people experience disaster so wholly, as suggested by a zillion country western songs, “without bad luck I’d have no luck at all.” We have certainly all met folks like this, where everything just fails in their midst. They aren’t lucky with love or money or health. We back away from them upon hearing their troubles, afraid their bad luck will rub off and diminish our own chance for finding all that lucky stuff…

Then there’s pitfalls that look like sheer disaster in the moment, the worst possible kind that sinks your heart and soul; yet after time, in retrospect, these setbacks often turn into something entirely different, something like well-planned good fortune. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Looking ahead, many of us picture nothing advantageous, instead fear highlights the perils and snags blocking our chances for lucky days. Nonetheless, misfortune can at times bring us to an absolutely perfect spot. Like my artist friend whose broken leg left her home for months to paint, and then, voila, a new career was born. Or another jilted by a lover (who all thought trouble from the start) now finds a surge in career and friendships. Suddenly, with hindsight by our side, we look at the twists and turns of our lives and feel terrifically blessed, lucky even…

No matter how I try to take apart the myths surrounding luck, ethereal and ephemeral for some, substantial and permanent for others, the mystery shrouding auspiciousness still stands. Perhaps like beauty, luck rests strictly in the eye of the beholder, and all those lemons and disasters are just part of our messy lives, until in reflection, we gain the vantage to observe the excellent order present through all. Unto that end, I’m grateful to find a random lucky penny or two dotting my path…

One thought on “Lucky

  1. I love the LUCK BLOG…..BUT I must say,our lives are ordered to SOME extent by the God who not only MADE us BUT LOVES us…….and this is the reason why we strive,love,deny ourselves alot of stuff and go on in life ,after luck fails,knowing we are loved,cared for and will get up and move on again……Angels abound!!!!!!!


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