The Theory of Finite Luck

Eileen - los angeles, California
Entered on March 6, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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As I drove home, listening to the biannual pledge drive on my local public radio station, I heard them lure the uninitiated with the promise of not only doing the right thing, but also, the possibility of winning a brand new cooler-than-I-will-ever-hope-to-be laptop. And as I listened, I smiled. I knew I would never have a reasonable chance in hell of winning–even if there were only one other person in the drawing. Nope, not going to win. Ever. Why? I have long since believed that it is due to finite luck.

You see, unlike those poor slobs who actually WIN stuff, like, say, gift cards from Trader Joes for bringing their own bags, or the lottery, or even the goodie basket at a silent auction–I have used up all my good luck on my husband, and my kids. I have had the best of luck–my three children are fantastic, amazing people and the man I married is everything and more than I could ever have wished for. I grew up in a loving, within-normal-ranges-of-neurotic house with two kind and well-meaning parents and so–I have used up my portion of luck. And if you look at it globally–I grew up in an affluent part of the world, never threatened by famine, war or even random shotgun blasts. So how much luckier could I get, really?

Now you may think me exceedingly pessimistic. Actually, I pride myself on having a cheerful disposition–smiling at strangers, letting random people in before me while driving–I am seen by my friends as happy as a pig in poo. But I still believe that luck is finite. You get so much, and you either are that miserably unhappy person with tons of health problems who wins the lottery–(you KNOW who I am talking about!!) or you get insanely happy moment-by-moment days with people you love–and kiss winning random things goodbye.

A few years ago, I actually DID win something– a free pair of tickets to a movie preview. I called in, at the behest of my son, and WON. I actually WON. I nearly fell over, not so much because the prize was so great, but because it caused me undue stress wondering what I would have to give up in return. After we left the preview, I looked at my two incredible children and their fabulous father and wrinkled my brow–a frown, something rarely seen on my face, erupted. I sat…and sat…and when I shared why I felt so ill at ease, my kids cracked up and said “oh mom, you won a MOVIE. just a MOVIE. No payback expected, nothing big.” and I smiled back at them. I guess winning a movie wouldn’t take a toll on my theory of finite luck….until I found out a few days later that I had a surprise pregnancy–bringing me a third and most wonderful joyful person. However, when I saw that little blue line, I thought “HA HA! So THAT is why we got to see Harry Potter 3 days before anyone else!!!!” Finite luck. But some things bring even more luck, as I found. Some times you win twice–a movie AND an unlooked for gift in the form of my now-five-year-old. But still, big ticket items will continue to elude me, even though I will still pledge, still submit my name in silent auctions, still buy raffle tickets and still toss my information into the hat at Trader Joes. But every time I do that, I think about how lucky, how truly lucky I have been in my life–and I smile. And I know, deep in my heart, that these goodies will go to someone else. Someone who doesn’t believe in finite luck.