In the land of overused phrases, one I particularly dislike is “With my luck…(fill in the blank)”. It presumes that one’s luck is always terrible, and that the most mundane of circumstances will most likely conspire to bring about the worst possible outcome. I think in the majority of cases, the statement is simply untrue.
I refuse to use the phrase myself, mostly because I think I have good luck. Now my superstitions are squirming loudly right now, but I must say that I am a pretty lucky person. I have the love of my life, as many great kids as I want, education and earning potential, parents who still live together, inlaws I get along with, a good job… the list goes on. I won’t list all the unpleasant things I have never faced, because it might jinx me, but you get the idea.
I also have the notion that luck isn’t really something you have, but something you make. Hard work can change your luck (but maybe then it isn’t called luck anymore). I do agree that sometimes, when luck is bad, it’s pretty tough sledding to turn it around, but I do think that people generally make their own luck. I’m sure the homeless men downtown would beg to differ, but really, much of my good fortune is a result of grandparents who valued education and made it possible for me to get one, and parents who have a good work ethic, and moderate habits, and did all the “nurture” things a kid needs so that I wasn’t born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Maybe it was luck that kept me from smoking too much dope in college, or getting the Clap or worse… but maybe it was something more like the sense to see what was at stake if any of those things had happened. Of course, it could also be Fate, or Karma or God, but I tend to think all of those things are intimately related, if not the same thing. I do think that what goes around comes around, and that there is always a silver lining (another two phrases which have become meaningless from excessive use), even if it is hard (or impossible) to see.
I worry that luck is not only relative but cyclical, and the positive experiences I have enjoyed for the past thirty-whatever years are about to be balanced by a downturn. Many days I go about my business with a little voice in the back of my head, reminding me that at any second, all those horrible things that have never happened to me might just start. I only hope that when it does, I can maintain the presence of mind to remember that it will pass, and if it doesn’t, then perhaps I will be at a point where it really doesn’t matter to me, which is just as good as luck anyway.
One of my favourite patients died recently. She was a young non-smoker who managed to get lung cancer, which spread everywhere. She was vibrant and lovely, and a joy to look after. I spent a lot of time thinking she probably felt like she had rotten luck, and maybe she did. I only hope that with so much bad, that she could find a way to see it as relative, and find some good. I hope that despite the crappy circumstances, she had a comfortable death, surrounded by the people she wanted to be with her, and I hope that was enough for her and for her family.
Maybe too, luck builds luck. Good builds good. That’s the karma part, I guess. That it’s had to stop a downward slide but easy to build on a solid foundation.
There are lots of reasons I refuse to deride my luck with that dreadful phrase… aside from its inappropriate ubiquity (tied for most annoying with “I could care less…” – which generally makes no sense in the context it is usually uttered), but mainly, that I have had good luck, and, of course, because I know that if I start tempting it, it will turn, and I can’t take that chance. I’ve been too lucky so far. And besides, I’ve tested the theory – I mentioned recently that I never get sick, even when viruses make the rounds of my entire family – and here I am with pounding sinuses and a dripping nose, going to bed at 8:30. Tell me that wasn’t luck.
In any case, I am a person blessed with luck, Karma, good fortune, guardian angels, good parents, whatever you want to call it. I am happy, and that’s as lucky as you can get.