It’s St. Patrick’s Day. And this year, as a collective nation, we have many competing feelings. ‘Lucky’ is likely not one of them.
While the basic laws of the universe are widely debated amongst Earthly scientists, one thing is for sure. It has a sense wicked of humor. Take it from me. God gifted me with a dead mouse in my sink this morning.
The concept of luck has captivated humans for thousands of years. We’ve developed a fascination with it’s origins and it’s symbols; often looking to religion to explain the gaps between scientific observations and ‘random acts’ improbable to chance.
We entertain lucky colors, numbers, rainbows, and rituals galore. We fear Friday the 13th, black cats, triple sixes, and skip the thirteenth floor altogether. With these expectations, we delight in feeling as if we have more predictive control of our surroundings.
In modern times, luck has been studied through the lens of cinematic scrutiny (thank you, Christopher Nolan!). We’re suckers for a tale of a man triumphant against all odds. Strong women are growing on us, too.
In The Dark Knight, we learn you can make your own luck. In Catch Me If You Can, we learn about the danger of writing checks we shouldn’t cash. In 21, we learn we must stop counting cards when Kevin Spacey tells us to. And finally in Whiplash, we learn we must keep playing the drums until J.K. Simmons tells us we can stop. In all seriousness, these films guide the audience on a journey from fame and fortune to hell and back again.
Most modern depictions of luck teach us these same thematic lessons. Luck is much less a random chance, and much more the pivotal moment where preparation meets a rare opportunity. And, possibly more importantly, fortune is not the greatest predictor of success. Preparation is.
Truly, isn’t ‘fortune’ the word we’re looking for when we so casually discuss luck? Isn’t ‘fortune’ the word we’re looking for when we’re calling on a blessing? The syntax here is key.
Luck would indicate a favorable act of random chance. A blessing would imply a holy gift bestowed upon a worthy follower. Yet, fortune simply denotes ownership of a significant resource without any associations to one’s deserving nature (or otherwise!).
Why would any religion’s god ‘bless’ one inhabitant of a specific hemisphere with clean water and an education, yet condemn another innocent child on the opposite side of the world with disease and warfare? Shouldn’t we respect what mechanisms are really at play here?
While it may be difficult to verbalize, fortune is not distributed evenly. It is not individually blessed upon us based on our innate worthiness.
Opportunity is anything but equal. There are finite funds and resources in this capitalistic society, and that is not a matter of debate.
This realization can make us feel guilty for our own treasures. It can make us feel less accomplished or hard-earned in our rite. It can make us feel less ‘blessed’ or specially ordained in our god’s eyes. In a capitalistic society, understanding this may even require us to soberly consider our complicit role in the bigger picture. But, we need not get our egos involved.
These concepts are not mutually exclusive. There is room for religion, even after recognizing that those without opportunity are not the intentionally and righteously damned. We can exercise thankfulness and humility at the same time.
This realization can also help us understand that those less fortunate needn’t pray harder. Instead, they simply need more opportunity. They need an equal chance to display their precious preparation. They deserve a fair shot at proving they can bang the drums as well as Miles Teller! (Okay no, but you get it.)
In our moments of fortune, it is our duty to give to those in their seasons of drought. Now is as good as a time as any to offer your donations, mentorship, and positivity to a world in dire need.
Offer a moment of emotional, physical, or psychological safety to another. Lend grace to others in their time of need. Recognize the natural truths that these periods of uncertainty do not impact us equally.
In moments of our own misfortune; we must continue to prepare our minds, bodies, and souls to shine greatness. We must be willing to seek opportunities in moments of darkness. We must abandon pride.
Do not shrink in gilded suits of armor. Luck Yourself by staying true to the wondrous, hopeful, generous child deep inside your soul. And specifically right now, Luck Yourself by staying home.
P.S. If you’re able, consider giving to: a food pantry, homeless shelter, domestic abuse shelter, or local Boys & Girls Club.
P.P.S. Here’s a promising playlist to make you feel invincible.
“Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned.”Emily Dickinson.