The Generosity of Luck

Francine - Concord, Massachusetts
Entered on March 5, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

My father was a generous man, but my mother has a generous spirit. It might be more accurate to say that my father was a man made generous at my mother’s urging. Mom gave because it made her feel right and Dad gave because mother hoped that he would.

The great American dancer and choreographer, Twyla Tharp, said: “I cannot overstate how much a generous spirit contributes to good luck. Look at the luckiest people around you, the ones you envy, the ones who seem to have destiny falling habitually into their laps. If they’re anything like the fortunate people I know, they’re prepared, they’re always working at their craft, they’re alert, they involve their friends in their work, and they tend to make others feel lucky to be around them.”

I don’t quite agree. I think luck contributes to a generous spirit. I believe luck is dumb. Luck is arbitrary. I believe in talent and hard work and timing and karma and I believe sometimes you can make your own luck.

This is not to say that I believe we aren’t responsible for the outcomes of our actions. I believe we are. And I believe life’s paths are as much the result of gravity and momentum and the physics of nature as they are luck.

But I believe in luck.

I believe that many times talented people work enormously hard at their craft and still end up singing to themselves or playing ball in a driveway or writing poetry on napkins.

I believe it is hard to have a generous spirit when you have no luck: when the accident of birth leaves you wounded in a war-torn country, hungry in a land of famine, jobless in faltering economy, or imprisoned in a despotic regime.

I believe it is luckier to be fierce than shy, pretty than homely, gifted than average, thin than stout and sometimes, here in this America in the new millennium, it is luckier to be white and male and Christian and heterosexual.

And if you are lucky, not only is it easier to be generous, it’s obligatory.