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Good, Bad Luck, and the Space In Between


Luck is a strange thing, and taken as an entity, it’s no more kind than it is wicked. Let’s face it, in every contest of any sort, someone gets some and someone doesn’t. We oftentimes give too much attention to the good luck of the early bird, and not enough attention to the bad luck of the early worm.

Writer Tom Robbins had an interesting approach to it: There’s always the same amount of good luck and bad luck in the world. If one person doesn’t get the bad luck, somebody else will have to get it in their place. There’s always the same amount of good and evil, too. All we can do is keep things stirred up so neither solidifies.

Most of us cruise along the road of life, accepting good luck as if it is our due, and bad luck as some sort of betrayal by nature. It’s not – it’s the other half of nature.

Good luck is often dealt out by the gods in proportionate amounts to our intelligence and common sense (or our bald-faced stupidity). Not that we can’t help to some degree, by maintaining a positive attitude, being cheerful, not being blindly daft any more than necessary, and not berating the gods for an occasional betrayal. But you can only stick your finger in a fan so many times before bad luck shows up. Poor decisions are the cousins of bad happenings. I like the quote by Patrick Murry: “I had bad luck with both my wives: the first one left me and the second one didn’t.” 

One of the big things you have to remember is, that to have any kind of luck, good or bad, you generally have to make it happen. With the exceptions of failing aircraft engines and terrorist bombings it’s mostly your responsibility. You have to get out there and take a chance. Remember, you always have at least a 50 percent chance of being the early bird.

In the end, the worst that will happen is, you will encounter some bad luck. What the heck – bad luck makes much better stories than it’s counterpart. Who really wants to hear about how well you did at anything?

We have lots of names for good luck and bad luck – destiny, karma, kismet, fate – but most of the time fortuity goes back to intelligence, confidence, and preparation. Misfortune is defined by its first three letters: MIStaken, MISinformed, MISguided, and MISsed the boat.

But maybe most of all, good luck is believing that the impossible is possible. It may be nothing more than seizing the moment with a bold, illogical confidence and seeing things through, regardless.

I’ll leave you with a quote by novelist Jean Cocteau, that explains nothing, but I like it: “We must believe in luck. For how else could we explain the success of those we dislike?”