Luck can be either good or bad and sometimes you can put a spin on something that starts out as horrible luck but becomes good luck. A perfect example of that is being in a catastrophic car accident, but surviving. It was unlucky that you were in an accident, but lucky that you survived. Sometimes something unlucky can result in meeting the love of your life. If you had not been there or gone through what you did, if you had not been in that hospital, or that building, then you would not have been in that exact place at the right time. You’ve heard of the wrong place at the wrong time but there is also the right place at the right time. Maybe one day you decided to just go another direction on your way to work and avoided getting killed. Maybe you woke up late one morning and missed your flight, only to discover later in the day that that was really the luckiest thing that could’ve happened to you because you missed the crash. I was sure lucky that I decided to go on vacation during the 9/11 tragedy since I worked there. Luck and bad luck are fluid—they are constantly changing because what you consider to be an unlucky event may turn out to be the luckiest day of your life. But is it really luck or divine intervention? It all depends on what one believes but I like to think that all good luck is a blessing and something to be thankful for. Then there are some people who always seem to be lucky, or so you think.
You know those people—the ones who are lucky in love, winning money, or great job. You get those people who win the lottery more than once but can’t handle the consequences and responsibilities of having more money than they are equipped to handle. They change, start living above their limits, destroy relationships and end up broke, and alone. I do believe that luck is not just some random thing—you make your own luck. I hear people described as lucky when they win an award, but in reality they have been working hard to earn that reward. That is not luck—that is skill, talent, and tenacity. To me, pure luck is when you have done nothing to earn your good fortune—lottery, horse racing, or betting on anything. But there are also many people who chase luck as in the case of compulsive gamblers.
My Dad was a person who believed in luck so much that he would spend most every Saturday at the “track” betting on the horses at either of the two racetracks around the NYC area: Aqueduct (the big A) or Belmont. Sometimes he was lucky and would come home as the jubilant big shot, ushering my brother, mom and I out the door to a nice steakhouse. But those were bittersweet memories because even as we were enjoying our night out, I knew that the next weekend could be a totally different scenario. I could never predict what type of mood he would come home in because it all depended on his luck that day. Oftentimes on Saturday evenings, after losing his shirt at the track, he would come home drunk, belligerent, and looking for an argument—it was always a roller coaster. My Dad’s quest for luck sometimes resulted in me, a little girl at the time, fielding phone calls from creditors and telling them my dad was not home when he was standing right near me. I became a liar because of my dad’s unlucky forays into the world of horse racing. My Dad’s obsession with hitting it big required him to have two jobs to support us. Luckily (or rather smartly) my mom held the family together with her job as a legal secretary. I so vividly remember hearing my parents arguing about money through the thin wall of our bedroom at night when my dad came home from his second job. Unfortunately those arguments laid the groundwork for my lifelong phobia of never having enough money and going broke. But it also made me the fiscally responsible person that I am today although I still struggle with a fear of “losing it all”.
The sad part of all this was that no matter how much money my dad won on any given day, he would throw it all back the next week in pursuit of hitting the big one. My parents were always one step away from divorce, but as was the case in those days they just stayed together. Even when my dad no longer went to the track to bet, NYC came up with a new way for people to feed their obsession—it was called OTB (off-track betting) and he just walked down the street to place his bets. Sometimes you have to practice acceptance and just stop fighting and in my mom’s later years that is what she did. She knew she could never change him and just stopped trying.