Good Luck or Bad

What is to be lucky?

For most of us, it means that good things happen to lucky people. If you have an attractive partner or a good job, the response is that person is “Lucky.” Which is a weirdly passive aggressive reaction, as if they were just walking along and met a beautiful person and then offered a high paying job. It discounts the idea of hard work. What if our hypothetical person worked diligently to get that job, suffering setbacks along the way but ultimately achieving success? As for the gorgeous partner, it’s not as random as winning the lottery. You might feel as though you did, but the reasons we couple up are many and varied.

Once, a long time ago I found a pair of sunglasses. Not a fancy pair, just a cheap knock off pair of Ray Ban shades that someone had dropped. The kind you might buy at a street fair. A friend of mine admired them and I told him that I had found them. He looked at me and said, “You’re so lucky!” Now he said it with a hefty dollop of envy. I found that peculiar as it was not as though I had struck oil or found a diamond the size of a grapefruit. Technically speaking, I was fortunate, I did get something for nothing, even if was just pair of off-brand Wayfarers.

Is luck in the eye of the beholder? Is it just a matter of perspective?

Recently, I had some bad luck. I am in-between jobs, not so recent, but a friend of mine told me about an opening at her office. It was very similar to the work I did before, so I was able to secure an interview. My friend sat in on the interview, since I would be working with her and it went well. I really wanted this job, it would pay me almost twice what I was paid at my last job and I would get to work with a friend, a bonus. Unfortunately, management or HR decided they wanted a different set of skills for this position, effectively moving the goal posts. I don’t know if they hadn’t whether or not I would’ve gotten the job but it effectively put me out of the running. Most people would call this bad luck.

But is it? Truth be told, I don’t especially enjoy office work. I love the regular paychecks, health insurance, paid holidays and so on. However, it’s unfulfilling for me on a primal level. You can work all day but still feel as though you’ve accomplished nothing. I’m much happier writing even though it’s yet to bring me any money. Yet.

On the day I got the disappointing news, a rainy day by the way, I was on the cross-town bus, so you know I’m living the dream, and I had an idea for something to write. Not what you’re currently reading, that came later. For something bigger. I’ve been struggling lately to find a larger project to work on. That might sound silly. It’s easy to say, “Just write something longer!” I wish it were that easy. It’s one of the demons I’ve been wrestling with. I think I may have pinned this one down.

So, the question is, am I lucky or unlucky? Would I have had the same epiphany if I did get that job? There is no way to know. Maybe if I had an advanced degree in theoretical quantum physics, I could calculate the odds. Maybe. I don’t actually know how any of that stuff works so it probably is a moot point.

There’s a Taoist story about an old famer whose horse ran away. Everyone said, “That’s terrible”, to which the farmer replies, “We’ll see.” The next day the horse that ran away returned with three wild horses. Everyone said, “That’s wonderful!” The farmer replied again, “We’ll see.” The Farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses but broke his leg. Everyone said, “That’s terrible” and again the famer said, “We’ll see.” The next day, soldiers came to take all the young men from the village to fight in a war but because the son had broken his leg, he was spared. Another round of “That’s terrible” and “We’ll see.”

This story can go on Ad infinitum. Luck isn’t all one thing. Going back to our hypothetical person from the beginning, maybe they have an eye-meltingly beautiful partner but they could be a huge pain in the ass. They might be cruel or extremely jealous or high maintenance. Their high paying job might demand long hours away from the things that make life worth living. Impossible to tell at a glance.

I’ve begun work on my new project, it’s not just flowing, I’m pulling irregular shaped thoughts out of my head and throwing them on to paper, virtual paper but you get the idea. This could be something. I’m excited but I don’t know if anyone else will be.

We’ll see.

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