Some people are just lucky, I guess
Published 5:08 am Monday, May 12, 2003
By By Lloyd Albritton
Some people seem to have consistent good fortune in life, while others seem to walk around with an old black cloud hanging over their heads. Of course, I am speaking here about perception, for many times those who appear to live charmed lives have just as much adversity in their lives as anybody else, but they don't complain about or belabor their bad fortunes. Others think and talk about nothing else, making it seem as if they have more than their share of hardship and that nothing good every happens to them.
Perceptions aside, I do believe that some people experience more good fortune than others, and that some people experience more bad fortune. There are many opinions on why this happens, but I believe there are three predominant views.
First is the power of luck. If I should ask a lottery winner to share with me his strategy, most likely he will say, "I did not have a strategy. It was just pure dumb luck!" Most people believe in pure dumb luck at least a little bit. If it were not so, there would not be so many lottery tickets sold each week all across America and the gambling casinos would not be so packed 24 hours a day. When we are unable to conjure up an explanation for good or bad fortune in our lives, we tend to attribute it to "the luck of the draw."
The second most popular explanation for good or bad fortune is offered up by those who embrace a devout belief in God. This view supposes that all good things come from God, hence the necessity to praise God when something good happens to us. But, what about when something bad happens? Religionists generally believe that God only sends good to His children and that God is not the author of any bad thing. When something bad happens it represents an absence of the presence of God in our lives. In other words, neither God nor Davy was watching out for us that day because we told them we did not need them and politely sent them away. When we abandon God, a window of vulnerability is opened up through which pure dumb bad luck, or even the old devil himself, can enter in and sabotage our lives.
The third valid explanation for good or bad fortune is that we have the power to make our own luck. If, for example, winning the lottery is nothing but pure dumb luck, it may be observed that before that luck could happen, one had to first purchase a lottery ticket. Good luck does indeed seem to favor those who have prepared themselves to receive it. A college education may increase one's luck in finding a good job. Exhaustive training and practice may increase one's luck in winning a golf tournament. Even the development of a positive and benevolent personality may increase one's luck in unexpected ways.
There is much to learn in this regard from watching a tennis match. Good tennis players often seem to be constantly on the move. The real fact is, an effective tennis serve or return is always done from a stationary position. When learning the basics of tennis, the instructor teaches the student how to position his or her feet and body properly for a forehand or backhand serve and how to properly swing the racket from that position. Then the instructor may serve many balls to the student to practice those skills while standing in one spot. As learning progresses, the student must learn to move about the court in order to be in position to return an opponent's serve, wherever it may land. This fact, however, does not change the basic principle of tennis, i.e., that the return is best made from a stationary position. The key to good tennis playing then, is to understand the movement of the ball and to proceed to where the ball is going before the ball arrives, then to hit it from a stationary position. Good tennis players often make this look easy, and as we watch them we are often amazed by the appearance that the ball always seems to land in perfect proximity to where the player is already standing at the ready for an easy, relaxed return. What we are witnessing is not luck, but skill and preparation.
I believe in God and that He blesses people with good fortune. I believe this because I have been indoctrinated with the idea throughout my life and my own life experiences have at times left me without any other logical explanation. Where sound logic is available, however, I embrace logic over mysticism. The problem with attributing too much credibility to the God theory is that, if we presume that those who live blessed lives have been the beneficiaries of God's favor, then what, pray tell, have they done to deserve such favor? "Oh, I have kept God's commandments!" one may protest. Or, "I have had faith in God and He has rewarded me." If this is so, then does it not presume that those who are not so blessed have been less righteous or less faithful? I am dubious of this view because it would seem to foster an attitude of pompous piety, an attitude often condemned by Jesus in the scriptures.
The Good Book admonishes us to persevere to the end. Indeed, no matter what we may believe as to the source of good fortune, and no matter how prepared we are or how hard we work or how strongly we believe, good fortune quite often comes to us only in the Eleventh Hour of our best efforts, even as we are entertaining thoughts of aborting the mission and jumping ship. Giving up hope and quitting a moment too soon may make all the difference in the world between success and failure, good luck or bad luck.
I'm not sure whether good fortune flows most from God, random luck, or preparation and perseverance, so I'm betting on all three.
Lloyd Albritton is a columnist for The Atmore Advance.