11 July 2010


Several days ago a storm hit Bridgeport Connecticut and caused widespread damage. I’m sitting across the Long Island Sound from there but all that happened here, while expecting a storm, was a slight drizzle. Many years ago my grandmother’s family used to own half of downtown Waco Texas. Then one day a tornado came along, or a cyclone as she used to call it, and destroyed a whole block of their property. The other side of the street was totally spared and left standing. You never know where severe storms are going to hit, what is going to be destroyed, and what will be bypassed. It is purely a matter of luck, along with many other things in life.

The older I get the more aware I am of how much of a role luck plays in our lives. The rich and powerful often think they are where they are because of hard work and smarts. But many other people work hard or have smarts, but they are nowhere near the pinnacle of success as we see it in this life. The difference is based on luck, pure and simple. It is often a matter of just being at the right place at the right time, of knowing the right people, along with focused ambition. Of course talent is important, at least when it is exceptional, but innate natural talent that is easily recognizable is relatively rare.

Luck determines which animals are on the outside of the herd and get attacked by predators. Luck determines most of the outcomes in our lives. You may consider yourself lucky or unlucky, but most of us fall somewhere in the middle, neither exceptionally fortunate nor exceptionally unfortunate. Thus you may not win the big lottery, but you also won’t die horribly in some kind of terrorist attack. For must of us the mean is the rule as we muddle our way through life.

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