A few days ago a colleague told me that she had recently had car trouble and used her cell phone to call for roadside assistance. While she waited she kept her phone on, though normally she keeps it turned off. Much to her surprise, it rang — and the call was not from the garage but rather a friend-in-need. I won’t add any further details except for her summation of the experience: Her friend had indeed been “lucky” to have reached her.
I have been thinking ever since about this notion of luck. Was it lucky that she had had car trouble and the garage had asked her to keep the phone on? Was it lucky that the friend just happened to phone then? Well, perhaps it was luck, and perhaps it was more than that. What is “luck” anyway?
In one respect, it is a convergence of events. There are lots of clichés about luck, including “Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.” I think the point is that there is more than just coincidence at play.
One thing we could consider is whether there is a difference between “good luck” and “bad luck”. In my colleague’s case, her bad luck of having car trouble turned into good luck for the friend trying to reach her. Indeed, the Baha’i Writings frequently address this, saying in essence that sometimes events happen not for our own good for but the good of others.
Another force at play is “serendipity,” i.e. the discovery of something better than what was sought and that could not have been anticipated. A mundane example of this sometimes happens while shopping. You are looking for one item and find another — and it is not only perfect for you but also is now at a reduced price. Taking this to a loftier level, could it be that in working through hardship we can arrive at a better place than we could have ever sought on our own?
This discussion touches on the seemingly opposed ideas of “destiny” and “free will.” I think both are truths, i.e. I have a destiny (a larger direction toward which I am growing) and also free will (choices all along the way). Perhaps my “destiny” is what provides the range of choices.
Visualizing this in a material way, I am like a cup, filled to the top or not. My destiny is my potential, and if I develop to my fullest potential then the cup is full. If I do not, if the exercise of my free will does not bring me to my highest level, then the cup is only partially full. Along the spectrum of empty-full are the countless points at which I make choices; some will seem to be due to “good luck” and some will not.
Like everyone, my life has had its ups and downs, sickness and health, troubles and successes. The challenge at all times is to have faith in the outcome, that the time will come when I will again say, “Wow, lucky me.”
© Jaellayna Palmer 2010