Minimizing My Life: No Room for Luck


This morning, as my swimmer who has a meet today walked out the door, I wished him good luck. Seemed appropriate on St. Patrick’s Day. Wishing someone luck. Good luck. The best of luck.

Luck seems to be a big deal in our house. Just the other day my car told me that one of my tires was low. The dealership told me there was a nail in my tire and I would need a new tire that would cost me $285. Ten minutes later after driving with a leaky tire to the local mom-and-pop shop down the street, I was told they could patch it for a quick 15 bucks. When I called Derek to tell him he said, “Good. We needed some good luck.” Whenever Derek leaves for a tournament, I always wish him good luck before he leaves. Seems like a jinx if I don’t. Yesterday as we sat outside near the pool on a beautiful afternoon in sunny California, Derek and I both mentioned how lucky we are to live here.

We seem to talk a lot about luck, but do we even know what it really is?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary tells me that luck is, “a force that brings good fortune or adversity.” A force? A force that will bring either good things or bad things to your life? I don’t know this force, don’t know if it’s a Star Wars thing or a Nature thing or a Universe thing, but I don’t like the 50/50 odds that this definition implies. I turned next to Google which told me that luck is, “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” This implies that my actions don’t play a part in my success or failure, but instead are controlled by this force of luck.

My apologies to both Google and Merriam-Webster, but I politely disagree. The more I have thought about it, I have come to realize that I do not believe in luck. Shit happens in life. Sometimes it’s good. Other times it’s not. Sometimes you win the golf tournament, other times you’re going to come in fourth from last. Either way, luck has nothing to do with it. Your preparation prior to the tournament, how you feel that day, what the weather is like, who else is in the field competition, all of those things play into the outcome. Luck is not a force sitting around waiting to wave its magic wand for good or for bad depending on its mood. Sometimes you get your tire patched, other times you have to pay the $285. That has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with choice. I had a choice that day. I could have stayed at the dealership and took their word for it, or I could have gotten a second opinion. For me, that day, getting a second opinion worked out. That wasn’t lucky. That was just being smart. And you know what? If I couldn’t have gotten the tire patched and had to pay the $285 for a new tire, it wouldn’t have been because of bad luck. It just is what it is. It’s life.

Some people might say, “Yeah, but what about random or unexpected things that happen?” Well, having a nail in my tire was both random and unexpected but I didn’t sit around lamenting about what bad luck it was. If I did that over all of the random and unexpected shit that happens in my life I would be a completely miserable person. Bad luck is a negative and I have decided that while minimizing my life, there is no room for negative. Instead, I choose to look at the random and unexpected as just that and nothing more.

Stuff happens in life that might be out of our control, but I don’t believe that some people are luckier or unluckier than others. You can’t compare luck. There are too many variables involved. If I have several good things happen to me in a row, it’s not a “run of good luck” it’s because I have set my life up in that particular moment, through practicing and learning and preparing for good to enter my life. When my child makes a good grade on a test, it’s not because he was lucky. It was because he was prepared for the moment. Applying luck to describe an outcome or situation diminishes your abilities and talents.

I believe that when we wish someone good luck we are simply saying, “I hope the best for you.” And wishing someone the best is never a bad or negative thing. So friend, this St. Patrick’s Day, I hope the best for you. I hope that you are prepared, that you make good choices, and that have put yourself in a position for positive things to happen in your favor.

Or in other words, I wish you good luck.

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