Lucky

My Father used to say there was no point in being lucky unless you knew you were lucky. It was essential on those High Holy Days of your life…to step out and observe them for a moment. “Wow, here I am holding my first grandchild.” “Wow! Here I am on this amazing trip.”…that kind of thing. You had to take yourself spiritually up above the Wow-worthy life moments and look down on them like they were a movie…your movie. Savor your starring role. Seize the moment. Seize your own designated share of divine largess. When Life is handing you Luck in a gift-box, look Him in the eye, take it and open very, very slowly….and look.… hard.

My Mother used to add: watch for small miracles, see your luck in the small moments…because they are the stuff of the average day. That’s how you acquire a “lucky life.”

Mother found small miracles even in the grocery aisles.

Mother loved to grocery shop and maybe, because of that, so do I. When she and Daddy would visit in the summer, we would visit a variety of grocery stores every week as if we were going to different Broadway openings. We made the rounds. “Your Mother needs to breathe a certain amount of freezer air”, Daddy would say as she leaned in to choose frozen vegetables. When my children would start to whine and ask when we were leaving, he would say, “Not yet. Your grandmother is interviewing an artichoke.” or “Your grandmother is auditioning a cabbage.”

But Mother would sometimes take a minute, and tell me to stop and look around, at all the meat and produce, the variety , the choices. She saw a wonder in it. She had been raised in a large family that had moved from tough times in Newfoundland to Nova Scotia…and then married my Father and had come to the U.S. She remembered spare times and war times and the Depression, but now, in a simple thing like grocery shopping, she had found a sense of stability, of a new abundance, and certainly, of her own personal luck. I have had a comfortable life, but, I still carry Mother’s perspective. So sometimes, breathing the freezer air myself…I think of Mother and I am joyously enveloped in her luck and my own luck too.

Yes, I have been lucky in my family, in my husband, in my children, in my friends. But I think Mother’s legacy is seeing my luck in the lilac bush that survived the fence fire (don’t ask)….my luck that there WAS another butter behind the milk in the refrigerator so I might finish my book and not run to the store…..my luck that the air conditioning broke during a freak cool spell.

It’s been a very lucky week. I’m a lucky woman.

A few years ago I sat in a car in a parking lot and watched a friend of mine cry. She is a beautiful woman, healthy, married to a very successful man who adores her. She had just completed building a dream home, just returned with us from a glorious island vacation. The two of us had bags of “cute clothes” in the back seat.

She hated her life, she told me. HATED it. She recounted her “issues.” I had heard them many times before. That day I was inspired to tell her, since we share a common faith, that I wondered if God might be observing the two of us. If so, might he be looking at her… to whom he had certainly been most generous when handing out the Celestial Goodies. “I gave her ALL THAT…beauty, comfort, health, intelligence…stuff I sure didn’t lavish on a lot of other people…and still she is miserable.” Not trying to be the spokesman for the Almighty or anything, but she indeed might have been a divine puzzlement.

That was the real waste.

She didn’t know her luck.

As my Father used to say, all the luck in the world is wasted, if you don’t know you have it.

Another good friend endured breast cancer in her thirties, and shortly after that, her first husband left her for another woman. She is now happily remarried but dealing with melanoma and arthritis pain. She was startled some months ago when a mutual friend remarked that she “had had a tough life.” She doesn’t see it that way. She has survived; she has a strong new marriage; she sees her luck.

The tragedies of life that all of us encounter ask for no invitation..they burst rudely into our lives unexpectedly and leave, slowly, reluctantly. But our Luck is more elusive…we need to look for it…invite it in…make it comfortable in our consciousness.

But I believe my Mother was on to something that is key: look for the small miracles. Any of us can have Luck in abundance every day of our lives…if we train ourselves to find it in a grocery store aisle, or see it in a pile of cabbage, or a plethora of rich ripe tomatoes.

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5 Responses

  1. “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”

    Shawshank Redemption

  2. A very beautiful piece…..I would agree that Luck is more elusive and that it needs to be invited in. The busyness of our twenty-first century lives impedes that ability. We are so set on getting through the day as we scurry from one engagement or task to the next that we fail to stop (or feel unable to) and just look around us to take in our surroundings and celebrate those things large and small that otherwise escape our notice.
    I have always loved summer. As a child the days seemed unending – one could (and I often did) lie on the carpet of green and look up at the sky and observe the clouds. Surrounded by the purple and white clover – how much sweeter a smell could there be? The most beautiful time of the day was around five (during the high summer) when the shadows would begin to lengthen just a little and the greens of the leaves and grass took on a subtle olivish shade. We would spend evenings sitting in the porch swing talking about nothing and everything sipping iced tea – life was full of unending possibilities.

    Life is what you make of it . As I tell my children, life would be dull without adversity – if one looks upon those as permanent, all-consuming tragedies then that is what they become and we are framed by those in a way that does not allow us to see beyond.

    I can remember when my in-laws were on a trip to Europe. Their plane developed engine problems soon after leaving BWI and the pilot prepared them for a possible ditch in the ocean. My mother-in-law told me that while that was not how they wanted to end their lives, she and my father-in-law ‘s only regret was that they would not see their first grandchild (I was pregnant at the time) but that they had had a happy life together and they would leave life together (something that happens to few long married people). As it turned out, the pilot was able to get the crippled plane to a nval station where they made a foam landing much to the delight (cheers and clapping) of the passengers.

    My mother-in-law taught me much about how to face “tough times”. She was to endure much in her final years as she battled ovarian cancer. However, she was always positive in her outlook – a day where she could enjoy the warmth of the sun outside, an hour where she was strong enough to play a game with her grandchildren, the ability to savor (the medicines often dulled her taste buds) the tanginess of a tart apple or the sweetness of a sun-kissed peach – these were all, as she used to say, very lucky things for which she was grateful. My children, whe were relatively young when she died, still remember her as if she only left us yesterday – they recall the “picnics she would pack” – they would walk down to the edge of the ridge where they lived, eat the peanut butter sandwich and drink the lemonade in the little thermos – and then walk back to the house, the many games of Candyland she would play with them, her Mock horror when the butterflies that populated the refrigerator would get loose and flutter around the living and dining room and the fun they would have trying to retrive them so they could be tucked away to await another “escape” on my children’s next visit. They remark how lucky they were and still are to have had my in-laws as grandparents. They have that same joy toward life – that ability to, as you say, invite Luck in”. If only more were willing to do so, what a different place the world would be.

  3. Thank you for the gift of this beautiful post today, cks. I think your Mother-in-law and my Mother were much the same, cut from the same cloth.

    And yes, dear Marco, hope is the sustainer, the promise that in spare times, luck will return. I think if we know where to look , it always does.

  4. Reading your essay has already given me more than my fair share of luck today. But I want MORE! Now if you would please inject the sagging stock market, that plaything of chicken-little traders and sniveling pundits, with your grown-up’s good cheer . . . Oops!

  5. Benny,the likes of me…clicking my knitting needles here in the “Mead”… must leave the stock market to you. But knowing something of your impressive intelligence and certainly of your emotional wisdom…I know all that know YOU..have HOPE.

    And as our friend Marco points out…that’s about the top of the line today.

    🙂

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