Sunday, March 18, 2012

Luck's disguises (by Emily Whitman)

All these great posts about luck got me thinking about luck in its various disguises. Such as--

What didn't happen. There's a country song about this: "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers"--the thing you were dying for with all your heart that, had it happened, would have completely messed up your life. (Here I might mention certain guys I dated.) (On second thought, I might not.)

The bad thing that wasn't worse. My friend from India said this is when you thank the gods for watching over you, because you're still here to thank them. The day the Mercedes rammed into my car, crunching my door in, requiring weeks of car repair--my daughter and I walked away unscathed. Thank you.

Planned happenstance. My friend Andreas taught me this term for how I go through life. Not so much drawing up a detailed game plan, as working hard and being ready for the opportunities that drift your way. It's much more rewarding to say than "dumb luck." I like this term. I wrote it in big letter on a sheet of paper and put it over my desk.

The stubborn piece of writing. I tackle a scene again and again and each time it resists coming together. How could this (insert curse word of choice) be lucky? But once I realize it's me being stubborn instead of the page, I see my approach was all wrong. If the piece had flowed along smoothly from the start, I might have kept carrying the page--and the book--in the wrong direction. It wasn't an obstacle; it was a story-angel watching out for the story's heart. Which brings me to:

Those damned silver linings. They're so hard to see at first. This winter my mother had seizures that landed her in the hospital. Bad luck? Major silver lining--her medication changed for the first time in decades, and now she feels livelier than she has in years. She'd known something was off, but had no idea what it was. She's grateful for that scary patch. We all are. Sometimes the silver lining is realizing how precious life is, so you go tell the people you love that you love them.

Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't need scary patches to remember to do that? Go tell someone you love that you love them right now. Maybe something wonderful will come your way. Whether or not you want to call it luck is up to you.


  1. I love how you look at the world. I try to always keep those in mind. <3

  2. I love the phrase "planned happenstance."