“You’re in luck,” I said. And with that, I turned to my second son and smiled. “I don’t need my car tomorrow, and am glad that you can use it.”
It was a beautiful March evening; and, Timothy and I stood for just a moment in the driveway before he drove off. As I handed him my keys, he thanked me and added just a little more. I knew the next phrase was coming well before he said it, but I looked forward to him saying it anyway.
“We’re both lucky, mom, aren’t we,” he said. And I replied with a “Yes, son, we are.”
As he pulled away from my house with what he came to borrow, I began to consider all the times that he and I have uttered those phrases. I tell him he is in luck and he tells me that we are both lucky – a mantra we have completed a thousand times a thousand. But this time, I think I meant it a little more. And I was hoping that he equally heard my words and delivered his with more meaning.
For during the early part of my day, I wasn’t feeling the luck in any way.
Though my daily work doesn’t bring me into direct, one on one contact with students often, this semester, a series of unusual events had caused me to work with three very different people for three very different reasons. Each of these three students had challenges throughout their lives that I nor my children had ever experienced or imagined: parents who at best could have been described as absent – a lack of funding not only for school, but for basic needs like food and shelter - no reliable means of transportation – no steady employment of any kind - non-supportive family and friends – and in general, a day-to-day existence that was more difficult than ever delightful at every turn.
Lately, I had spent a great deal of time wondering about the what-ifs for these three young students. What if just one thing was different in any one of their lives? Just one thing? What if one of their parents put effort into raising them? Just one? Just a little? What type of difference would that have made? What if each one of the students could say that they had never gone hungry – not for one day? That they never thought about how they were going to secure their next meal? Wow. What type of difference would that have made? Or what if they never once had to worry about transportation to and from college, to and from work, to and from anywhere? What type of difference would that have made? If they had just had a little luck, in any direction, for any reason, at any time, what type of difference would it have made for any or all of them?
My work is not to sit behind a desk and wonder all day long. But, there are days that wondering is the best that I can do.
For although I tried my hardest with each student and they tried their hardest, neither my effort nor their efforts has been able to provide them with enough success to eliminate all of their problems and challenges. In fact, we hardly made a dent. The road in front of each of them still seems long and bumpy with admittedly a tiny glimmer of light at the end - but I wouldn’t call it a streaming beacon at this point.
Through my contact with these three individuals, I swiftly came to realize that all they really need is a little luck. Somewhere in their frantic worlds, they need to come across a road block and suddenly be handed just a bit of luck and . . . voilà . . . the challenge is averted, the problem is eliminated, the story has a happy ending. In fact, all anyone really needs is just a little luck. Trouble is . . . getting to the point that such luck appears is often a journey of a million miles.
That’s why it is so important to recognize and realize when luck occurs. For when it does occur, we have normally waited a long time, planned a great deal, put in time and effort, tinkered around, and worked hard to reach such opportunity. Benjamin Franklin said it well defining “diligence as the mother of good luck”. Likewise, Tony Robbins calls luck “the meeting of preparation with opportunity”. Neither diligence nor preparation has a short time frame. Both take awhile, a long while. Likewise, luck takes awhile, even for the luckiest of folks. In considering how luck works, I sincerely hope that the three students I have personally met during spring 2014 are in it for the long haul and are willing to persevere, waiting for their lucky moment.
Connecting all the dots in some fashion, I am grateful for the conversation between my son and me on that beautiful Wednesday evening. He and I – in less than 100 words – acknowledged that luck had been a part of our lives and that we were and should be thankful for it and for each other. Such a brief conversation between two people, but an important one - a conversation that gives me plenty to wonder about. A conversation that I am hoping that we will continue to utter and build on for years to come.