“It’s not about luck,” my friend Andrew insists, “it’s about gratitude.”
Andrew is not some sort of New Age guide, in case you were wondering. He is a slightly curmudgeonly tax preparer and not given to feel-good platitudes.
He was refuting what I had said, which was that luck has played a significant role in my life. When good things happen to me, I don't believe it's only because I worked hard.
“Lots of people work hard,” I told Andrew. “Not everyone had the head start I did.”
By “head start,” I am usually referring to my mom and dad, who were the equivalent of winning the parent lottery at birth. I say this not because they were wealthy, but because I got every good thing a curious kid could wish for in parents.
I was always encouraged, no matter what I decided to try. They never assumed, because I was a girl, that I wouldn’t want to camp in the wilderness or carry a canoe on my shoulders or learn how to keep bees.
My childhood was a time of exploration and love and support. Struggles and disappointments came later, but I will always remember childhood as that time when I would sit on the edge of my bed in the morning, my feet dangling just over the floor, and be overwhelmed by the myriad of possibilities the day held. I knew my parents would never discourage me from trying whatever I had in mind.
“A carnival on the hill? Why not?”
“A puppet show in the basement? OK.”
“All the neighbor kids are coming over again today—for what?”
I would sit on the edge of the bed in the morning and feel how large a place the world was, how full it was with possibilities and adventures, and that feeling was never tamped down by my mom or dad. That, in my opinion, was a giant stroke of luck.
“You can’t claim luck for having your parents,” he insists (although Andrew has known my parents since he was 16 and he would be the first to agree I have terrific parents). “Lots of people are born into great homes and they never appreciate it. The important thing is to be grateful for what you have.”
I agree with Andrew on the importance of being grateful, so we can’t really get a good argument started. Although I still know I was incredibly lucky—and continue to be—to have the parents I do, supporting every harebrained idea I come up with.
This past week was one dedicated to gratitude. We were asked to consciously focus on the many things we have to be thankful for and, for me, this is an absurdly simple task. I have a wonderful marriage and loyal friends and projects that excite me and supportive people in my life—starting with my parents.
And one of the things I am most thankful for is that I am able to see it—I am able to recognize all the good in my life. When some sadness or disappointment crops up, it is easily overwhelmed by the tsunami of good things that crowd my life. My little disappointment doesn’t stand a chance when I begin the practice (which I try to remember every day) of consciously remembering all the ways in which I am blessed.
I know I’ve been lucky, but I’m glad Andrew got me thinking about this. Having him as my friend is just one more way that I’m lucky.
Till next time,