On Luck

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She's So Bright - On Luck
A little bit of Thomas Jefferson for you!

Do you believe in luck?

I do. And for a long time, I didn’t really think I had much of it. Of course, that was when I was young, and wanted desperately to win little raffles, and school competitions that were chance based (I never did). Some people seemed destined to win those things. We all have a “lucky” friend that has weird winning streaks, somehow gets out of a test, or narrowly misses some accident or responsibility. I was generally not that person.

But when I was in college, my ideas about luck changed in a single conversation. It was over a Super Bowl betting pool, and every one of my friends was buying in to pick the winning team, along with their guess at the final score. When asked by my male friend about joining, I waved him away saying I was pretty unlucky and never won much anything. He paused. Then glanced at me with scrutinizing eyes. “Eva, look at yourself and where you are.” A moment passed between us. “And you say you have no luck,” he chided.

I felt an immediate sense of shame. I had always thought about luck in the sense of winning things, but I had never considered the things that I had already won. Born in America, gifted a stable, loving upbringing, educated at an expensive university – I clearly already had a jackpot in my hands that I had never considered. Perspective came into focus like a jigsaw puzzle falling into place. “Oh,” I replied.

My friend had meant it kindly, gently reassuring me in his cheerful tone to always look at the positives. After all, he should know – the guy literally majored in gambling, a course load he, himself put together, constructed of statistics and cognitive science courses. And of course, he went on to win that Super Bowl pool of cash, picking the exact winning scores for a whopping $10,000 cash prize. It was legendary.

Since then, I still haven’t won much of any raffle, not even the silly one at our photography club meeting every month that yields no more than twenty bucks. I guess the idea of winning appeals to me because it makes you feel special, unique, chosen. And I think that’s what I meant when I told my friend I was not particularly lucky: I was never plucked out of the many. Meanwhile, Jon believes in pure, Charlie Bucket, single ticket, luck. So when we buy a ticket for the six hundred million dollar jackpot, he says, “you only need one.”

We all want to feel lucky, in the end, but I remind myself to think about the luck I’ve already had. Sure, good, exciting things are always floating around and can happen to you. But more times than not, you have to work hard to attract and procure those things. For the most part, dumb luck really is just that.

And for many years my gambling friend was really lucky, but it all ran out for him during a late night of reckless driving. He was just 27. Since then, whenever I’m feeling ungrateful or unlucky, I think of that conversation we had, and know that on top of everything else I should be thankful for, I’m lucky for every single day that I have.

What are your thoughts on luck? Share with me in the comments below!

She's So Bright - On Luck

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