Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Heads or Tails #2 (Luck)

Barb's directions for today's Heads or Tails insist we are to "list a couple times luck has played a part in your life." That's difficult because, as I'll explain, I don't put much stock in luck. Nevertheless, I'll give you two instances in which I might have been considered "lucky."

Recently, as many of you know, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. But it was detected at almost the perfect moment: The diagnosis was serious enough to scare the heck out of me and motivate me to take immediate action, but the disease was caught early enough that, after surgery to remove most of my colon, no radiation or chemotherapy was necessary. In the sense that the disease was caught when it was, I was "lucky." However, I can assure you that I would have felt far luckier had I not had ever had that condition at all. Although then I'd never have known how "lucky" I was, would I?

Twenty-seven years and about a month ago, I went to the home of a friend for a party. It was at that party that I met the woman who subsequently became Long Suffering Spouse. Although we knew many of the same people, we'd never met before that evening. (You can debate among yourselves whether that meeting was lucky or unlucky for her.) Lucky for me, you may say, that I was out carousing instead of studying... because that was the weekend before the bar exam. If I'd decided to study more, we might never have met. So was that luck? Maybe. But I was sick of studying... and it wasn't in my nature to pretend to study if I felt I was ready for the test. Which I did. Which means maybe it wasn't so much luck as... what? Fate? Kismet?

"Luck," said Branch Rickey, the GM of the then-Brooklyn Dodgers, the guy who signed Jackie Robinson, "is the residue of design."

Or, as Thomas Jefferson reportedly said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."

That's kind of what I believe about luck. Or, more precisely, I believe that hard work can produce what others attribute to "luck." So I guess I don't believe in luck at all.

Although... as Jean Cocteau said, "We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?"

Hmmmmmm. My logic is so circular here, I'm getting dizzy.

And, I'm of Irish descent. And therefore superstitious. So I guess I might believe in bad luck, right? On the other hand, someone named Andrew W. Mathis once said, "It is bad luck to be superstitious." So maybe I'd better not. Be superstitious. Or believe in bad luck. (Andrew W. Mathis appears courtesy of The Quotations Page. I guess Cleveland Amory and Bennett Cerf were busy. I guess further that you have to have consulted a toastmaster's quotation book or two to get that joke. Ah well.)

Now: If I haven't gotten you dizzy enough, think on this....

We say someone is lucky because -- just a for instance -- he narrowly missed getting hit by a car while crossing the street. But -- maybe -- if he got hit, and recovered, and sued, and won -- maybe then he'd have money to invest and when the next Bill Gates tapped him on the shoulder with the next can't-miss thing. Then he'd be filthy rich and, oh boy, would people say he was lucky. Because he got hit by the car. But if the car missed, people would say he was lucky, too -- that's how we started this example -- but he's still the same poor schlub as he ever was. And then, when the next Bill Gates taps him on the shoulder, he'll just say he's all tapped out. Doesn't sound so lucky any more....

Nope. I think luck can only be determined in hindsight... and even then we don't know what lay ahead on the "road not taken." And good luck proving otherwise....

Oh, this cosmic stuff is tough, isn't it?

6 comments:

Patti said...

Aha! your anonymity is slipping away. You told us you were Irish and we already know you are an attorney and live in Chicago.
That narrows it down...careful now.

I tend to think we meet the people we are supposed to meet to help us along life's journey. Including our significant others, of course.

Skittles said...

I think both you AND LSS were lucky to have met each other!

My daughter will be having more tests soon after finding she has some possibly cancerous cells after a pap test...

Oh and..

You've been TAGGED with the Eight Things meme!

tegdirb92 said...

wow, a lot of lucky moments in your life!! I am so glad they caught that health problem early!!

Shelby said...

aww the luck o' the irish . . .

Mama Pajama said...

Great post. I enjoy all the fun facts you include. I'm Irish too...you can't deny that kind of luck...Thank God your doctors caught the cancer early!!

Anna said...

Enjoyed your post! That whole thing about the guy getting hit by the car or not getting hit by the car and is he lucky or not... well, that is tough.