Talented writer Matt over at River of Time posted a piece today entitled Do You Feel Lucky? He captured my attention with his engaging and thoughtful post and now I am compelled to answer his question.
Lucky? Emphatically, yes. Soooooooo lucky. For one thing, I came into the world blessed with strong genes. My parents are/were both highly intelligent and creative people with strong immune systems. They were all about family and wrapped their children in a secure blanket of religion, routine, structure, and high expectations. I have always considered myself to be particularly fortunate when it comes to siblings. I have tight relationships with all seven of my bros and with my lone sister. I couldn't ask for a better stroke of luck.
I am married to a life long Eagle scout. He attained that rank in his teens and he has always held true to the laws of scouting. He is a principled man with compassion and a good sense of humor. We have two adult children who are also responsible and compassionate people. Both are independent, intelligent, and creative. Both care first and foremost about family and community. I am so proud of them and know that genetic luck played some role in who they are.
I know I took risks and made unwise choices repeatedly in my twenties. I don't think I knew then but I sure know now: I was so lucky. My life could have taken such a different direction. As it was, I ended up safely graduating from college, landing a teaching position, working for several years while going to grad school - all the while courting danger but luckily avoiding it. I have been able to take my education and parlay it into a satisfying and community based career. I know there are many people who are unemployed and I know there are good people who would love to have my job. I am lucky. And, trust me, as soon as I can, I will step aside and let someone else try their hand at my work!
My relative material comfort is, in good measure, all about luck. Sure, I worked hard (most of the time) getting through college and I went after and attained a good career in education - no luck in that part - but I am also fortunate to have been born in the country in which I was born and in the era in which I was born. I live in a safe small town. I have a warm home and enough food in the cupboards to feed the neighborhood. I have health insurance and a decent set of wheels (both bike and VW). I live in a place where beauty abounds. Now, I know I can find beauty anywhere but really? The coastal foothills and the nearby seacoast make beauty second to breathing. It's everywhere everyday. I am lucky.
Have I not mentioned health yet? Holy moley - I am lucky in spades in that department. I am rarely sick and usually manage to recover quickly when that does happen. Admittedly, I do take care of myself - not smoking, exercising regularly, watching the quality and quantity of what I eat, wearing a seatbelt and a bike helmet. However, the lumpectomy from a few years ago was not cancer, the kidney stone from a couple of years ago was hella painful but led to no further consequences, the bike accident was messy and painful but I had no head injuries and was left with almost full movement in my right arm. Lucky!
I know I get discouraged. I know I sometimes focus more on what might be less than satisfying than on what might be working well. Underneath the discouragement is the knowledge - concrete and palatable - that I am lucky. Perhaps that is the voice I need to hear the most.