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LUCK OF THE IRISH
17 March 2006
The March Collab for "Writing Womyn" is
What better day to discuss "luck" than on St. Patrick's Day?
Much as logic and intellect tell me that there really is no such thing as "luck," experience has led me to wonder if some people just are more lucky than others.
It may be said that we make our own luck. Does the person for whom everything in life seems to go her way mold her life in such a way as to put herself in the path of luck? Or do good things just "happen" to her?
Are the people who win the lottery more lucky than the people who don't? Or do they just buy more tickets, increasing their chances? I tried to find the "chance of winning the lottery" and find that in the UK, your chance is 1 in 13,983,816. But one site I found said that your best chance is to play the same numbers always to increase your chances.
Well, I don't play the lottery, but I always thought that idea seemed like a good one. So I have my set of numbers. I've never played them, but I have them. And though I don't follow the lottery religiously, I do periodically check the winning numbers. 9 times out of 10, I'm lucky if ONE of my set numbers comes up. This is in years of mentally playing. If there is anything that is amazing it is how consistently none of my numbers shows up as winner.
There has to be some sort of luck around or slot machines would cease to exist. While my friend Olivia, who has won her fair share in games of chance, may increase her winning chances by playing games where a bit of skill is involved, there is no real skill in playing the slot machines. You just sit there doing aerobic exercises, pulling that handle over and over again (do they still pull handles in these computer-operated slot machine days?). Yet I never win at the slot machine. I long ago gave up trying, but occasionally we will take some out-of-town guest to Reno or Lake Tahoe and they insist on giving me coins to play the slots. I always tell them it's a waste of money because I never win. We sit side by side and they rake in the winnings while I might as well be playing the parking meter. In no time flat I have gone through all of my coins with nothing to show for it. I might win a handful of coins--just enough to keep me playing a little longer, but have never hit anything even moderately "big."
But how about in the game of life? There are those who seem to have good things just fall into their laps. The dream job pops up out of nowhere. You're discovered sitting at a counter at Schrafts and go on to become a major movie star. Oprah mentions your book and you rise from obscurity to fame (or, in the case of James Frey, "infamy"!)
Are these people inordinately lucky?
Or are there things going on in their lives, their past, which help to create the luck. Maybe Lana Turner spent every single day at Schraft's just hoping someone would notice her. Who knows how many things Frey had written before Oprah stumbled upon him.
How about bad luck? There are those people to whom everything bad seems to happen. People who walk around under their own personal rain cloud.
Are they as unlucky as other people are lucky? Or are they living their lives in such a way that they create a more welcoming space for bad things to happen.
I really think that a lot of the "luck," good or bad, is at least partly affected by your attitude about life.
Not too long ago, an acquaintance of mine was going through a bad spell. Her husband had developed cancer, her son was having problems with the law, she had just lost her job and had started drinking again. When I heard about her, my initial though was "she has had so much bad luck...I am so fortunate that things are going well for us."
Then I remembered I had been fired from my job and two of my children were dead and I kind of laughed at myself.
I have known other people who have experienced monumental tragedies in their life who pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. Somehow people don't look at them and think how "unlucky" they are, though an argument could certainly be made for that fact.
(What does "luck of the Irish" mean anyway? Ireland suffered a devastating potato famine that killed thousands of people and caused thousands more to flee the country. There has been war in Northern Ireland for decades. If this is the "luck" of the Irish, maybe I should start pointing to the Scottish side of my family and not so much the Irish side!)
Maybe some people are more or less lucky than other people, but I really think that what's more important is how we respond to our luck, be it good luck or bad luck. In that way we are in control of our own destinies and we aren't overly inflated by the good stuff, or devastated by the bad stuff.
But all the same, I think I'll continue to stay away from the slot machines and the lottery.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
I spent too much time making this...I had to post it in full size.