Just My Luck

The concept of luck has always intrigued me. I’m torn between believing in it completely and wanting to disregard its existence. I like to believe that free will, and the choices or decisions that stem from it can overpower the effects of luck. Especially bad luck.

I believe in fate, therefore I must believe in luck. After all, the two are well intertwined. While I see fate as more of a big-picture, long-term type of thing, luck is purely situational.

Luck determines whether you spot the $20 bill on the street, or find the last of that cute shirt in your size. Luck is whether or not there’s a crying baby or an empty seat beside you on the plane. Luck is when something beyond your control impacts you in a positive or negative way.

I never wanted to believe in luck or fate. I thought that hard work and planning were enough to forge the life that I wanted. As I grew up, I realized that was an extremely narrow and naive perspective. Life isn’t that simple, and my convictions couldn’t be either.

The idea for the name of my blog came from my conflict with fate and free will. Could fate still affect those who lived fearlessly? By living boldly, could you defy fate’s plans? Are our choices really just predestined to set us on a particular path?

Fate and the fearless.

For the record, I still don’t have defined answers to those questions.

My opinions seem to change with my mood. It’s easy to blame a bad day or a bad grade on fate, but less so to attribute those consequences to free will. An awareness of both has brought me to the conclusion that fate exists, but it can be persuaded by the results of the decisions we make.

The presence of fate becomes increasingly undeniable with reflection. On its simplest consideration, is the realization that I had no control over where I was born. I was destined to end up with a loving and supportive family. It was fate who decided that I would have two older sisters and a mother and father who stayed together, despite the trials of life.

It was also fate who allowed my sister to step out of a car that rolled over twice on a highway with only a few bruises.

It seems unfair that some people are born into such difficult circumstances or lose their lives because of small mistakes. Why am I so fortunate while children in developing countries lack access to education, clean water or shelter? Just as they’ve done nothing to deserve such suffering, I’ve done nothing to deserve such luxuries. It’s just fate.

Throughout my life, my family and I have always considered my middle sister the lucky one. Problems always resolve themselves for her while she sits back and relaxes. When she applied for her Master’s degree, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to get in against all of the other students who had work experience. That year, an exception rule was passed so that students without work experience were also eligible. She got in. On a plane ride home, she was sat with a middle aged man who happened to be a senior partner at a prestigious firm, and offered her a job. Obviously my lucky sister didn’t need the offer since already secured herself a different job with an equally reputable firm.

For me on the other hand, if something has the opportunity to go the most unfavourable way, chances are, it will. The most recent example is being paired up with a former friend in next semester’s clinical group. The groups are randomized out of 70 people, but naturally I would end up with someone I didn’t get along with. If I’m running late, red lights are to be expected and close parking spots aren’t available. Technology just seems to spontaneously combust around me.

I definitely don’t belong at slot machines.

While luck may seem uncontrollable, it’s all about how you spin it and view the decisions that get you there. My sister wouldn’t have been able to network with the partner of a firm if she wasn’t so sociable and welcoming. I wouldn’t be running late if I had woken up earlier. My bad day wasn’t because of fate, it’s because I was late and couldn’t find parking. Maybe all those red lights weren’t trying to slow me down, but were keeping me away from a car that lost control.

Luck and choice can’t be compartmentalized. It’s all connected. The fearless must coexist with fate.

I have to give credit to great philosophers who’ve kept their sanity. My brain’s spinning in circles just trying to sort this out.

– S.

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4 thoughts on “Just My Luck

  1. Sounds like you’re talking about a version of determinism and come in on the side of the compatibilists. I’m not sure where I stand on free will. Everything I study leads me to think there is no such thing, but the complicated chaos of life makes prediction nearly impossible. I guess I’m a pessimistic incompatiblist at the moment, but like you, I find this changes from time to time.

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