I, on the other hand, never considered myself to be particularly lucky. I wasn’t athletic or naturally competitive, so “winning” was not really part of my skill set. I was the most physically delicate and emotionally fragile of my siblings, so I suffered both injury and insult at their hands. I never had difficulty making new friends, but I was also never what you would describe as “popular”. Unlike my Dad, I didn’t have an intrinsic sense of being fortunate; I believed hard work, academic achievement and living according to my morals would be the road to a successful and happy life.However, in spite of graduating from an excellent college and continuing to conduct myself in business and relationships in a way I felt proud of, my streak of not-such-great-luck continued into adulthood. Mountains of effort produced very little achievement (or so it felt to me) and things that seemed to come so easily for most presented virtually insurmountable obstacles. In spite of this, I would never have described myself as an unhappy person. I genuinely liked being me (still true) and I had a lot of wonderful relationships that reflected the idea of my value and lovability back to me.
One thing that I did occasionally experience was what I call grace, but for the sake of this discussion I will call supernatural level-luck. That is to say, although my day-to-day existence often felt bumpy and filled with disappointments, I had moments in my life that could only be described as “divine intervention”. Like when I left my Filofax (remember those?) containing my driver’s license, bank card, money and all of my personal contacts in a phone booth (remember those?) on my way to work, and when I got home that night found it waiting for me because a stranger had driven an HOUR to return it. I have a whole series of stories like that, and they never fail to amaze my listeners. And although my professional life failed to yield any breakthroughs, I did finally have my dreamed of (and worked for) child.Life was good. But I still didn’t consider myself lucky. And then, the scheisse hit the fan.
I have written before about how heart-wrenching and continuously challenging the four years following the birth of my son were; they sort of epitomized the adage, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”. There was personal loss, job loss, upheaval and a little person depending on me who needed more care, attention and intervention than most children. I spent four years putting out fires in my super hero cape, and a lot of the hopes and dreams I had for myself simply fell by the wayside.Surviving, not thriving was the order of the day.
When the dust finally settled and I looked around, I saw that not only had I survived, but I was raising a happy, healthy kid who had inherited my Dad’s “lucky” gene; the butterflies always landed on him. And crawling out of my self-imposed emotional bomb shelter, I started forming friendships and connections that felt healthy and supportive. In this new reality, I started to revisit some of my own hopes and dreams.In this new reality, I started to realize that “All of my life, I’ve had good luck.”
In viewing my life story as a retrospective, I began to marvel at how the pieces of this intricate puzzle all fit together irrevocably…you can’t pull even one of them out without distorting the picture. During those difficult years, I started saying, “Today’s bad experience is tomorrow’s funny story”, a somewhat diminishing way of voicing this essential truth. Every loss, every disappointment, every challenge somehow became a building block to a more authentic existence.Recently a young Pastor at my church gave a beautiful sermon about his early days in ministry; he was assigned to a parish in a very economically depressed community. During his first visit to the church, he noticed what he thought was an unusual stockpile of communion bread. When he asked about it, he was informed that many of the families in the congregation were so poor they counted on that food for their Sunday meal.
Shortly after his arrival, he was called upon to write a sermon about how “The Lord Provides”; in looking at the poverty of his parishioners, he felt uncomfortable preaching such a lesson. He struggled with the message all week, and entered church that Sunday uninspired. It was the habit at that particular parish to start each service with petitions, so before he spoke, he let his congregants offer their prayers for intercession and give thanks for blessings.Aristotle wrote, “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” A woman stood up, a woman the Pastor knew to have very little financially, and gave praise to God for her tremendous good fortune. She was thankful for the air she breathes; she was thankful for her community; she was thankful for the knees she got down on to pray. Her litany of gratitude was so extensive that the young man realized on that day that he was her follower. She had taught him that “The Lord Provides”, not the other way around.
In thinking on this, I have decided that this thing we call “luck” is actually just our normal day-to-day experience. Most of the time we have air to breathe, community to engage with and knees. We have a beating heart and a thinking brain. We have the capacity to learn and grow and most importantly, love. Most of the time, we are not engaged in the tragic, the earth shattering, the soul rendering.Most of the time, we are lucky.
I believe now that my Dad understood this to his very core, and that was the message he was trying to teach. Misfortune is the anomaly, but even misfortune is often simply a stepping stone to greater success or enlightenment. Another thing my father was fond of saying was “Every day is a good day”; so I will now pass his wisdom on to you in this form: “Every day is your lucky day”.Every day you have a beating heart, a thinking brain, more to learn and love to give is your lucky day! You decide what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Will you decide you are lucky and then gather the evidence to support this truth, or will you have the experience and then bless it as lucky?
Because the end result is the same: Today is your lucky day!