“Is it luck?”

I was thinking this morning that a lot of what happens in our lives is pure luck. All that stuff about, “You can be whatever you dream” or “Work hard and you’ll succeed” — no. It’s better to have dreams and work toward them, but I think it’s just that life is better if it has a purpose.

The historical moment into which we’re born? Luck. The genetics we are born with? Luck. Where were born? Luck. Our parents? Luck. I was thinking even our relationships — whether they work out or not — has a lot of luck to it. Were we lucky enough to have a good model for love as we were growing up? Did our partner? Or, as in my case, you meet the right man at the wrong time. Luck. 

Our teachers — we walk into a classroom and there’s a person who’s going to guide us toward skills and knowledge. Where did they come from? What do they know? What do they love? Luck.

In 2000 I went to Italy. It was a long strange trip. I came back and discovered I didn’t have my usual class at San Diego City College. Why? The boss was sick and someone who didn’t know about my bespoken class did the schedule. They didn’t want to change it. (OK, maybe I decided to believe their lie…) I was scared. My friend, Denis Joseph Francis Callahan said, “Get dressed up and go peddle your CV. Start with San Diego State.”

I’d sent my stuff to SDSU at the beginning of SPRING semester and we were heading into FALL. I thought if they’d wanted me, they’d have called already. “You don’t know that,” said DJF Callahan.

So, I went home, showered, printed a new CV. I showed up — cold call — at the department office of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at SDSU.

“Oh my God! I don’t believe it! We just called you!” said the receptionist. I was immediately interviewed, hired, and given two classes. AND because of my “bad luck” in NOT having my class at City College I am now living in a house in the San Luis Valley, mostly comfortable.

Health is also a matter of luck. I inherited some problems, and other problems seem to have skipped me (or are waiting down the road). I found photos of me as a twelve and thirteen year old, and it seems I’ve always had one leg shorter than the other. I see in photos of my dad as a young man that he did, also. I inherited hypertension from dear old mom, and myopia from both sides of the famdamily.

Other luck? To be alive now when it’s possible to replace a bad joint. Maybe it will be easier in the future, but I’m OK with now. I’m vaccinated against all kinds of deadly shit that once killed children — but I nearly died from measles when I was six. No vaccination in 1958.

Medieval people explained life’s uncertainties with the Wheel of Fortune. We like thinking we are the “masters of our fate; the captains of our soul” but maybe only half of that is true.

On that note, I think I’ll go load the dishwasher I’m lucky enough to own!

18 thoughts on ““Is it luck?”

  1. Luck is the answer to most of it. My dad always said he never believed anything unless he saw it himself – OK, perhaps not the solution to all problems. He seemed to believe all that junk that cheap newspapers said, a great believer in fake news.

  2. I think ‘luck’ goes by many names – ‘fate’, ‘divine intervention’ ‘chance’, Kharma. I’m not sure which I believe in, sometimes I’m certain it was ‘meant to be’ and other times I’m equally sure it was ‘dumb luck’.

  3. I had to listen to the song by Primus. Or, I tried to listen to the song…I finally found the lyrics instead. Is the music intended to cause neural disruption or is it just a fortuitous happenstance? Inquiring minds may never get the scream of ‘IS IT LUCK!?” out of their heads.

    But, to answer the unasked question, yes, Luck is in the eye of the beholder.

    • Primus — not everyone’s favorite. I don’t know what happened with the link, I re-embedded it, but…

      I don’t think luck is in the eye of the beholder. I think we’re socially programmed to underestimate its effect on our lives.

  4. There’s luck and then there’s one thing leading to another. I got measles at six too! Why wasn’t I vaccinated! I feel that the measles virus was an important trigger for me getting type 1 diabetes six months later, but that’s just speculation on my part. But maybe it was just dumb luck. Who knows.

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