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Luck Is a Big Deal 

One of the hallmarks of becoming an adult is the realization that you’re really not in control of much at all. Once you arrive at this junction, things tend to go one way or another… either you hand it over to some deity and trust that “everything happens for a reason,” or go with the “fuck it” route, throw your hands in the air, and just hope for the best.

Either way, sooner or later, we all must admit that luck is a huge part of life. Choices only get us so far. The rest comes down to who is hiring, if that beautiful girl at the bar is single, which cells are overtaken by cancer first, and many other matters of “right place, right time,” or vice versa. The hard part, as we all know about the nature of luck, is that it rarely makes any sense.

Our world of “USA! USA!” tells us that we need to “make our own luck” and “grab the bull by the horns.” Tell that to the thousands of people that die in car accidents every day (they must have not been grabbing those horns hard enough). Turns out, sometimes the bull has a plan of its own, and those sumbitches weigh like 2,000 pounds. There’s no excuse for not trying your best to live a happy, fulfilled life, but one of the only ways to do that without losing your mind is by learning to cope with uncertainty and not insisting on constant control.

If life were a race, it’d be the most unfair contest in all of sports. Rules would change by the minute, teammates would turn to rivals (rivals into teammates), and the thing would never end — every finish line crossed would quickly reveal the blurry visage of another checkered line that feels impossibly far away. It seems to me that the best of us are more like surfers than racers, and to them life is more like the ocean: predictably uncertain, unspeakably fun if you know how to handle it, unbearably relentless and frightening if you don’t. So many serious affairs in life are governed by timing and chance, and I tend to be happiest when I’m figuratively paddling hard out into the sunset and riding in the one that feels right. There’s really not much more anyone can do.

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© 2012, Ian Mathias

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