Fork in the Road: Luck be a lady tonight
Some people see luck as absolving the individual of responsibility in a bad situation.
Whether you believe in a (or multiple) gods, some sort of universal force or simply the power you yourself possess, at some point or another, I’m sure you too have been at this juncture, questioning why things are unfolding as they are. Moreover, why it is that some individuals seem to experience triumph after triumph while others are constantly cleaning themselves off after being kicked into the mud time and time again? And so in the season of the shamrock, I thought it appropriate for us to tackle the subject of chance.
What is perhaps most fascinating about this topic is that irrespective of personal beliefs, it seems few are immune to its powers. On the one extreme, we have fatalists who have signed off their “free will” to the stars. Yet, on the opposing side, even the most analytical, scientifically minded individuals can be caught playing the lottery (despite the odds!) When you think about it, it’s not hard to see why either is the case: “luck” is a rather enticing “lady.”
Sometimes it’s frankly just comforting to believe that there’s something or someone out there bigger than all of us who is calling the shots. Particularly in the case of competition, if one can conclude they were defeated due to “bad luck,” “bad timing” and/or their competitor getting a “lucky break,” it means he/she does not need to accept personal responsibility for the loss. In other words, blaming “luck” is a socially acceptable way of minimizing failure that strives to protect one’s ego, without making you appear immature (or a sore loser!).
Ouch! Yes, that seemed harsh, but think about it for a second. If you write things off as happening (or not happening) purely due to “luck,” you and your contributions are no longer relevant. It was “out of your hands.” But, hey it’s okay – we all need to save face sometimes. Further, sometimes it takes years for us to admit the truth about situations to ourselves, which of course brings me to my next point.
To return momentarily to my tragic tale, looking back now, admittedly I could have predicted (at least) the demise of my romance, thereby protecting myself from the shock of that situation. There were signs along the way indicating everything wasn’t copasetic, but I chose not to see them, just the same as I chose to perceive my life as being struck with a bout of “bad luck.” Ah and therein lies the crux of this entire matter: “luck” comes down to perception and seeing what we want to see. It doesn’t help of course that humans have a tendency to narrowly focus on “extremes,” which results in us missing all of the stepping-stones, which have led to certain moments in our lives. But, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
And so, whether you believe your life is predestined, navigated by personal choices, influenced by (un)luck or just “a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes” (Reality Bites quote!) is irrelevant as in ALL scenarios, the end result is that you can’t control everything that happens or doesn’t happen for/to you. What you can control however is how you perceptually frame your response/reaction.
With that, I’d like to conclude with an important piece of advice taken from a page out of the Rolling Stones’ songbook: “You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometimes/You might find you get what you need.”
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