Friday, April 29, 2016

Lots of Luck

In the May 2016 edition of The Atlantic writer Robert Frank outlines the role he and others think luck plays in our lives. Frank knows something about luck when his heart failed and he was rescued by paramedics just minutes after his heart stopped because they were in the area rather than at their home base miles away. He was revived when 90% of those afflicted don’t make it. He goes on to outline what researchers have found about the role good fortune plays in our lives.

This got me to thinking about my own life retrospectively (something I do all too often Aleene says) and what Lady Luck has made possible for me.

My dad used to say we should be grateful (read that lucky) that we were born into a loving family. This was in the late 1940s when there were half as many people in the United States and we as a nation were still in the afterglow of having WWII behind us. He thought to have love was important and I am sure it is, but it never occurred to me that a child would not be born into such surroundings. I took love for granted.

I thought I was lucky to be born into a family where I was the youngest and was doted upon by my older siblings (not the one closest to me in age, however.) I guess I could have been a little prique and not received their attention, so I was lucky I understood how to keep that affection flowing my way. Turns out I was not #5 in our family I was really #8 and had it not been for the stillborn deaths of a brother and twin sisters I may not even have been conceived. Was that luck or as many think, God’s will?

Luck was involved that my parents thought it best to seek a farm as a place to live when Dad was called back into the Army when WWII broke out. It turned out to be a learning lab for me  in many ways. I was lucky I had role models to emulate in the area of hard work and love of nature. I was lucky to learn how to drive a tractor when I was 12 so that I felt a certain amount of independence when I was out in the open air mowing or raking hay. That was my “happy place” in those days. That feeling stayed with me for five years as I took over some of the farming operations. The farm turned out to be much better than the city for a place to spend my teen years.

I was lucky to be born with some musical talent and to a mother who shepherded me toward vocal music and the experiences I gained from rehearsing and performing. I should also  mention the satisfaction I got out of appreciating great musical works. Lucky me.

Fortune played a role in my life choices, I am sure...where I went to college, what classes I took and the young men with whom I lived. I know that I made good choices, but where there was no reason to go one direction or another I was lucky I chose the roads I travelled.

I was lucky to be ordered to a ship on the East Coast vs. the West Coast during the Vietnam War. I served in the Mediterranean instead of Yankee Station. My good fortune continued while serving on board Roosevelt, since I served with some fine officers and men. When comparing notes with contemporary navy junior officers, mine was an uplifting experience not a sad one.

The only time I did a comprehensive job search with a resume and all, I chose Campbell Soup (and they chose me) when there were other good options and multiple offers. When I arrived for my first day of work five of the twelve men in my department were former Naval Officers….and two were Penn State grads. Was that luck in that I had made those choices which made me more attractive to that organization? You see I learned so much at CSC and after all, they moved us to West Michigan where we stayed for 35 years. I feel lucky that we raised our family there.

Then there was my choice (or her choice) for a marriage partner. Lady luck smiled on Aleene and me as she put us on the same track to find each other and discover our common bond: a strong family. While circumstances and choices pushed us close together, I really think that making a marriage decision at a young age (Aleene was 21, I 23)  had a  lot to do with luck.

We were lucky to be able to conceive children and had a boy and a girl and that they turned out to be Jeff and Amy. Yes, there is a lot to be grateful for whether it was luck or fate or God’s will..

Frank concludes his Atlantic article by saying that each time he introduces his study of luck he gets people to reflect on their lives and it inevitably ends up making them happy. As Garfield the Cat famously said, “I resemble that remark.”

1 comment:

Kathleen Huber said...

That is a wonderful look back on your life. Choices that have all been good !!! God's will.Now I know why You & Aleene always look so happy !!!