I wanted to do today’s post a little differently. I wanted to write on the topic of luck. I’m sure with the economic crisis, friends and families at war, and all other kinds of problems weighing on the backs of people, that it is easy to lose sight of the sheer joy and unpredictability our lives have to offer us.
Feeling a little unlucky? Then I have a short story from you. It is taken from the children’s book Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. These stories are all based on Buddhist and Taoist tales, and all I can say is that I never felt as enlightened and weightless reading a children’s book as I did reading this. I hope you find encouragement from it.
The story is called “The Farmer’s Luck”
The Farmer’s Luck
There was once a farmer who worked his crops for many years. One day, his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses. “Such good luck!” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the farmer.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg. Again, their neighbors came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Such bad luck,” they said. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after that, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army to fight in a war. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. “Such good luck!” cried the neighbors. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
After the story, a little boy replies with “I get it, maybe good luck and bad luck are all mixed up. You never know what will happen next.”
The parable of the vending machine and the two dollar bills
I was at a college debate meeting once and needed a caffeine fix. I went to the vending machine. I
grabbed the crispest, straightest dollar bill in my wallet and fed it to the machine, only to have it spit it back out, over and over and over.
Exasperated, I threw up my hands in annoyance. I was about to walk away when I stopped and a little impish smile grew on my face. I fished back into my wallet, grabbed another dollar bill, crumpled it into a little ball, uncrumpled it, and fed the wrinkled bill into the machine, you know just to see what would happen. Low and behold, I got my soda. All praise the Discordian goddess Eris.
The moral: Sometimes, when you embrace the absurd, random, whimsical, chaotic, nature of our world and just roll with it, only then does fortune smile on you, unless of course she thinks you’re trying to game her or something. In other words, sometimes you win only when you stop trying to win.
Who can say how the pendulum will swing?
The other day I had the insight to watch a video interview of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and I found something curious about it. Do you know what I saw? The man was nervous. He was sweating and awkward with the media cameras put up to him and I thought. “Here’s one of the men who run the world, and he’s terrified in his own little way, just like everyone else.”
Behind his eyes, I didn’t see someone greedy, I didn’t see a stoic face, I saw the face of someone who looked scared and guilty, as though he was trying his hardest to maintain a sense of responsibility and vision, and no matter what he did, he knew he was letting someone down. It’s the face of someone who created a monster and doesn’t know how to stop it. I suspect a lot of powerful people are like that, human.
So is luck the only real thing that distinguishes us for them, and with that sickening sense of trying to be responsible when you are at the helm of a thing like a corporation, and knowing you can’t live up to any expectations, even your own at times, would you really be able to call yourself fortunate or lucky if that were you?
I guess what I’m really saying here is: Try to strengthen your awareness of your true situation before you ask why you are in such and such a difficult situation, because your bad luck may very well be good luck. You know that saying in the Bible “The meek shall inherit the earth”? Maybe that’s not saying the powerless will be given power. Maybe it’s saying that the powerless are the truly blessed, because the powerful can own the earth while experiencing not one drop of true joy from it.
Until next time, let the chips fall as they may.
Livewithwonder can be contacted on twitter at @mrthejazz1, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his blog at livewithwonder.wordpress.com