Friday, April 16, 2010

Do you feel lucky?

Over the last few days I've had several people contact me by phone, email and instant message and remark how fortunate it was that we took our trip to England when we did.

It was a stroke of pure luck, to be honest. Like all the unfortunates currently stranded at European airports, I had no idea a volcanic eruption was in the offing. (If I had, the choice to go over Easter vacation would have been very much like Eddie Izzard's classic "Cake or death?" -- not much thought required.)

When I was younger, I often thought of myself as a jinx -- the way I saw it, if something could go wrong for me, it probably would. It seemed that, in the words of the corny old country song, "if it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all." Since then I've read many words about luck -- who has it, who doesn't, and the concept of changing one's luck via attitude adjustment. Turns out, if you believe you're lucky and act as though you're lucky, looking around for possibilities, not only are you more likely to be the recipient of fortunate circumstances, but your reaction to life's experiences will alter subtly so you will perceive your experiences as more lucky.

Since my attitude adjustment, I've won several contests, managed to get into sold-out Broadway shows, actually fulfilled the lifelong dream of going to England (despite British Airways' best attempts to scotch it), and now been accepted into a juried craft show (yay!). I can see that part of this change has to do with the change in attitude and the increased opportunities that accompanied it; in times past, I wouldn't even have bothered to apply for the juried show and thus would have had no chance of getting in. (Likewise, when British Airways cabin staff went on strike, I would have simply thrown in the towel on going to England rather than looking for and finding alternatives to my original flight.) But I've also realized that I had several episodes of luck even before the attitude adjustment, and didn't recognize them for what they were.

Example: back in the early '90s, before I met Captain Midnight, I worked for a while at an appraisal company in the Bay Area. It was a good place to work, but I began to get this little feeling that it was time to move on. I gave notice to my boss only days before the word came down from the parent company that our office was considered redundant and would be shut down; most of the other employees were fired. It had only been a year or so since the Loma Prieta earthquake hit the Bay Area, and one of the girls in the office observed that I'd just made it out of the firings unscathed, "like the last car out from under the Cypress structure" (aka the Cypress Street Viaduct, which collapsed catastrophically after the quake). After that my nickname around the office was "Sype," short for "Cypress Structure" and referring to my crazy luck.

I didn't have any insider knowledge, or even any free-floating anxiety about the job. I just had a little feeling, and rather than ignoring it, I listened to and acted on it. But at the time I didn't recognize this as luck, because after all, I wasn't lucky. (!)

Though it isn't always a sure thing, I'm beginning to realize that it's possible to influence one's own luck -- by remaining open to other options, by continuing to look around rather than immediately conceding defeat in opposition, by reinforcing a goal through repetition of a single, simple daily statement (i.e. "I, Soozcat, will complete this film script by the end of April 2010") and then exercising the faith to act on it. It goes against everything I once believed about luck, and yet I've seen it work... there's got to be something to it.

6 comments:

Julie said...

Me Like-y this entry...

PG said...

I very much concur with this.

Jessica said...

I like this post, and yes you were lucky to get out of england when you could. I live a few miles from one of londons airports and its been complete caos

Soozcat said...

I do feel for all the people who are stranded right now. (Although, personally speaking, I can think of far worse fates than being stranded in England for a while--we had a great time!)

LDahl said...

Good post!

Soozcat said...

Many thanks.