In conversation with both friends and strangers, (because, if you know me, I don’t meet “strangers…”) I’ve had some rather deep exchanges about luck and how it plays into our satisfaction in life. If I relied on luck to be happy, I’m fairly certain I’d be discontent, at best…clinically depressed, at worst. While I have had unexplainable opportunities befall me, I don’t consider myself lucky. Just as I don’t label my challenges and struggles as “unlucky.” I say it, often…”It’s just my turn.” Mountain tops, valleys and the ascent and descent of each…the cycles of life won’t be ignored, avoided or delayed. Things out of our control are happening, incessantly. Mix in the things we CAN control and there’s our life, the whole of your existence. I cringe each time I hear the overused term, “blessed,” when people find themselves in a satisfactory state of that existence. I am all for gratitude, but, blessed, to me, suggests that I am somehow more favored and deserving than you. Case in point: When my dad died, he’d been sick for a while. Not nearly as sick as we knew, but ill enough that people prayed for his healing, regularly. At this same time, some other parents of friends were going through physically distressing times, also. The prognosis wasn’t good. But, they recovered and the relieved family returned home with their loved one. My family, instead, planned a funeral. I was grateful that my friends didn’t lose their mom or dad. But, what was incredibly difficult was hearing the word, “blessed,” repeatedly, as the short explanation to the turn of their events. Being one of the best humans many will admit they’ve ever met, was my dad not worthy of being “blessed” back to health? It was his time. I have come to accept that, though I miss him in a way that will never diminish. For those whose health was restored, it wasn’t their time. Being made to feel we belong in either the “blessed” camp, or the “cursed” is not something I ever want to impress on another. So, when I see all the good in my life, I am grateful. Yet, I do not, for an instant, believe the positive parts of my whole are because I am chosen and you are not. I don’t need to sway you from your standing that you are blessed. I will not be swayed that I have things for which I am grateful and no more deserving than someone for whom this particular fact is not a reality. I touched on it, a couple years ago, in an abbreviated way that bears repeating:
I’ve lived in deserts, jungles, developing nations, places without modern convenience or choice, remote locations that could cause any traveled person to swear they were suddenly transported from AD to BC. I never understood, nor do I still, those who declare they “hated it [there”]..I am in awe of this planet. I have left richer for each continent I’ve seen, for each culture willing to patiently teach me their traditions, and occasionally, sacred rituals. I am a daughter of the earth and I have many brothers and sisters yet to meet. So, some consider me “lucky” to live by the sea. But, know that I did not feel unlucky in jungles, deserts or locations without convenience or choice.
While that snippet was clearly written about my relocation to the ocean, living a few hundred feet from the waves, so close I can hear them when I open my windows, it is applicable to most every aspect of life. Valleys, included. We humans are the oddest of creatures. We tend to believe we are entitled to non-stop ease and comfort, health, wealth, happiness and an absence of anything that threatens these aspects of tranquility. To the degree that we choose to reject that life is a constant ebb and flow of events that are both joyful and painful, are we stuck in the mire of woe and discord. It’s not a good place to be. I know. We need not cheerfully proclaim how thrilled we are when experiencing a painful blow, denying our true feelings. But, accepting that it is all a part of the human condition lessens our resistance to “bad times,” ironically allowing us to breathe easier through the “bad times,” because we know they won’t last. Finding ways to care for ourselves when harsh blows toss us around, profoundly alters our perception. Not only are we reminded that we have the power to soothe the pains of temporary setbacks, but we can’t help but NOT associate SOME positivity with the darkest of days. We learn we don’t have to intensify the spiral. When we require of ourselves, those things that ease our senses and bring us back to our center, we are far more equipped to arrive at solutions, shortening, or at least, making bearable, the challenge at hand. We will never be prepared for things that bring shock, despair or overwhelming emotions. But, we most certainly can practice the idea that being uncomfortable is just as much a guaranteed part of our path as times of comfortable normalcy. While indisputably more difficult, we can begin to feel that all is right with the world, even when it’s not as we’d choose to experience it. It is through acceptance that we begin to realize that resistance to negativity reinforces negativity. Luck plays no part in how we direct our thought processes as life does what life will do. Those who appear lucky know this. Deciding that pessimism will not be the fuel that engulfs your being as you navigate bleak times is something we can do immediately. It may feel downright fake, at first. Making a ‘decision’ is all that is required to alter the pattern to which you’ve grown accustomed…decide to accept that troubled times will come, eventually. And, decide not to cling to them, declaring all hope is lost. Awfulizing expends exponentially more energy than resolving. As we take these new courses, both in thought and action, eliminating “luck” from the equation, we find new power. More importantly, refusing to label our (or anyone’s) circumstances as “lucky” holds us accountable for the outcomes of these scenarios. Begin with the admission that the tag, “luck,” is an attempt to absolve us of responsibility. The same is true with the term, “unlucky.” It establishes a false and often lazy differential that paralyzes our capabilities. It attributes the success of others to chance, as well as the lack of our own triumphs. If you’ve grown sick and tired of being sick and tired, ask yourself how often you feel “unlucky.” And, eliminate it from your vocabulary. Accept your abilities as much as your responsibilities. Ask yourself if you have minimized the efforts of others by dismissing their achievements as “luck.” It’s a subtle trap we set for ourselves, and one we can discard, at will. Set goals. Work. Save “luck” for the lottery and take a step toward the thing you’ve felt you’d never be lucky enough to achieve. And, watch your luck change. We are competent, skilled, proficient beings. And, it’s astounding, the more we tap into these qualities, the luckier we become. Embrace you inner Hercules. Work, not luck, Warriors. Grind and grow.