Two and a half years ago I survived a 30-40 foot fall from a malfunctioning man-lift. As the machine went over, I grabbed the rails of the basket as tight as I could. I remember seeing the house I was painting, then blue sky, and finally; the white of my knuckles as my fingers gripped the top rail of the basket. I passed out before I hit the ground.
My friends said, “you know, you’re lucky; you could’ve died,” and I agreed; I could’ve died, but I knew that I wouldn’t because luck didn’t mean the same to me as it did to them.
I’ve always believed that I was lucky, but lucky didn’t mean that I had experienced a wonderful childhood surrounded by a loving family, or that I never knew the pain of divorce, physical and mental abuse, incest, rape, or abandonment. Being lucky meant that I wasn’t pregnant at fourteen, addicted to heroin, a thief, in prison, or my worst fear, a pedophile. It meant that I had survived with my soul intact; where so many others didn’t.
To my friends, being lucky meant that instead of dying from that fall, I would spend six months or more healing from a broken vertebrae, tibia plateau, and heel bone when I “could’ve died” instead, but as I lay on a stretcher, drifting in and out of consciousness to the rhythm of helicopter blades; I knew that I would survive again.
My notions about fortune and its role in my life changed irrevocably that day. Although I was thankful for the providence, and truly I was fortunate. My survival was not about luck. It was about strength. To say I was lucky that I didn’t die, or that I didn’t turn out to be a pedophile because of my childhood, intimates that I had no choice, but there were always choices. So, what is luck? Dedication. Perseverance. Moxie. I’m not sure, but whatever it is, I think I’m lucky that I was strong enough to make the good choices.
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