Luck – The Humbling Unpredictability of the Dinosaur-Filled Island of Life

Published August 4, 2015 by Jen Rosado from MyAlternateUniv

I’ve written about fate and destiny and cosmic conspiracies, but luck? Luck was something to which I hadn’t given much consideration.

In fact, I used to bristle if someone said I was lucky. Saying “you’re lucky” makes it sound like you’re undeserving, like good things had come your way by chance rather than through hard work and perseverance.

Of course, when “bad luck” struck and things didn’t go as planned, I used to comfort myself with the belief that everything happens for a reason, and there was a significance I might not understand for years or even a lifetime. The comfort was in the knowledge of a larger purpose – everything would work out in the end.

But I understand now that some things just…happen. There is no reason.

Whether you want to call it luck or chance or happenstance, some things in life are random and unpredictable. The very thought of this makes a wild-eyed, breathless, hand-wringing control freak like me break out in a cold sweat.

Honestly, in the grand scheme of life I still believe in a higher purpose – the gifts we were born with that, with hard work and perseverance, lead to what could be considered our “destiny”. But I’m struck by the reality of just how many things in life are determined by mere chance:

At birth: your genetics, innate talents and intelligence, who your parents are, and where you are born – all beyond your control. As a child: your health and nutrition, socio-economic status, and the opportunities available to you to learn and develop skills – again, beyond your control.

It is not until we reach adolescence and young adulthood that we begin to realize some semblance of control. At that point in our lives it’s easy to attribute our achievements only to things that are within our power (like good-old hard work and perseverance). Although luck is all around us in different forms – from fabulous blessings to miserable misfortunes, it’s easy for this fact to be lost in a youthful sense of destiny.

Through experience, I’ve lost a bit of that self-assuredness. There are times when life is less like a box of chocolates and more like a dinosaur-filled island after a tropical storm has knocked out the electricity to the T-Rex and velociraptor paddocks with the supply ship having already departed for the mainland leaving you at the mercy of genetically engineered, carnivorous beasts.

It is, indeed, humbling when there’s a humungous T-Rex eyeball staring in through your window in the form of a pink slip or medical diagnosis or any of a million unforeseen challenges life may throw at you.

It might be mental and emotional fortitude, a soaring intellect, an amazing talent, athletic ability, or quick-wittedness that saves you from being devoured by life’s monsters…if you were indeed lucky enough to be born with such attributes and lucky enough to have had the opportunity to hone such skills.

But even then, you might need help.

I’ve written about my son being on the autism spectrum. The truth is we’re all on a spectrum of sorts, with different levels of abilities and assets to utilize and disadvantages and deficits to overcome.   It’s how we take advantage of the good luck and how we adapt to the bad that sets the course of our lives. It helps shape our character – a character that is ultimately defined by our words, our actions, and how we treat our fellow human beings.

Looking back I realize there have been times in my life when victories came from battles long fought. And, yes, there were times when good things happened seemingly by chance. But it strikes me that, especially in my most anxiety-provoking, dinosaur-filled moments, my good luck came from the kindness of others.

You can’t always be airlifted off your island, but a much-needed supply-drop, the guidance and advice of experts, or even just some words of support and encouragement can make a world of difference.

So I guess you could say I’ve been lucky. I’m grateful for the talents I possess and for the opportunities that have presented themselves along the way, but mostly I’m grateful for family and friends and people in my community I’ve never even met who have helped and supported me when I needed it most.

I truly have an amazing village helping to raise my son.

Whether life is a Whitman Sampler or Jurassic Park, the significance of our struggles and sorrows is their ability to connect us to others, to build understanding and empathy.

And the beauty in this colorful spectrum of humanity is our ability to use our gifts as a positive force in the lives of others – to be a source of someone else’s good luck.

 

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11 comments on “Luck – The Humbling Unpredictability of the Dinosaur-Filled Island of Life

  • Love the way you wove in the T-Rex’s and in the end brought it back to each of us being instrumental in throwing a bit of empathic luck someone else’s way. Thoughtful goods here, Jen, spoken from your heart.

    • Thank you, Sammy!! 🙂 I seem to recall you and I having a “conversation” about all the different spectrums in the world (parenting, in particular) and the learning curve that happens, especially when you find yourself at an extreme end of the spectrum. That idea kind of stuck with me, because I think it really applies to so many aspects of life. So thank you for the inspiration – I’m glad I found a way to work it into another post!!

      • Absolutely! I still have much to learn about many spectrums of our existence. Fluidity seems preferable to fixed positions, but can seem unpredictable nevertheless.

      • Great point! And there is always room for movement on a spectrum, even the autism spectrum where a child can go from non-verbal to what would be considered “high-functioning”. It’s fluidity that gives people hope that things will get better in the future. I would love to provide hope or comfort, to help others move toward something better in life in the same way that others have helped me (and still do)!

  • Tell you what… I claim not to believe in luck and how it affects our lives. However, I’m a great believer in Lady Serendipity and the little gifts she throws in our direction! 😉

    • Lady Serendipity – I like that! Kind of a combination of fate and chance, I guess. As I said above, I’ve always been a believer in the idea that “everything happens for a reason”, but my son’s diagnosis made me really ponder the idea that some things just…happen. I do love your idea, though – those fortunes we happen upon just when we need them! 🙂
      Thanks for your thoughts, AJ!!

  • Excellent story, kept me engaged the whole time! I love conversations on topics such as this so here I go 😉 I think luck is perceived as random, but those that ‘appear’ lucky have kept their eyes open for opportunity, or worked for so long but nobody saw that part when they caught their break, or maybe what appears as luck such as where we are born is part of a plan that was predetermined long ago. I tend to think as soul we have some voice in this before we are born in order to fulfill lessons we need to learn in this lifetime. So to me, luck is an illusion (random as it may be), and even though I know that, I still hope the luck is on my side 🙂

    • Thank you, Brandi!! I love meeting people who think about these kinds of things, too! 🙂
      Luck is one of those topics I’ve been pondering for a while, starting when I visited Haiti about 20 years ago and more recently when my son was diagnosed with autism. I’ve gone back and forth between “chance” and “fate” and “creating your own destiny”. I guess I’ve arrived at the idea that some things just happen, for no reason really, and that we have the power to use our “good luck” to improve our own lives as well as the fortunes of others. But I like your idea about a plan for our lives – a way for our souls to learn lessons. I guess someone who faces more challenges in life might learn perseverance or how to be happy despite hardships or even how to let go of pride and accept help, while those with less challenges might learn to use their advantages to the benefit of others.
      It’s certainly interesting to think about…maybe a topic I’ll reconsider when I’m further along in the journey!! 🙂

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