The Long Way Home 11.18.2022

At family gatherings when we were just a young couple, barely into our twenties, with two blonde-haired pixies (there was more to come), we attended family gatherings during the holidays that sometimes included Aunt Betty. Betty had a hard life, including poor health. She also had a nasally voice that grated on me. Every time, she would greet me she’d add a comment, especially after seeing the girls, “You’re so lucky.”

Back then I was a hard-working and semi-intelligent young man who did a passable job providing housing, food, and love to my family. I, and my unfortunate ego, deeply resented the idea that I was just lucky. 

Now that I’m officially an old man, and can reflect on a long life with humility and gratitude, I have to admit that I shouldn’t have been peeved at dear Aunt Betty--or most of the other folks who rubbed me wrong with their conclusions when humility still eluded me. 

In his book, The Luck Factor, Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire, England says, “My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good."

Without knowing it at the time, those four principles guided me throughout my life.

Here’s some of what I now consider my good luck with the opportunities and decisions that were there for me:

I was born a nearly poor white child in the great state of Minnesota.

Two parents, imperfect but always there, who raised me. They had deep respect for teachers and preachers, and never took my side against them.

Born near the end of the baby boomer cycle, I benefited from the free polio vaccine given at school, polio having once struck our family.

A public school education where teachers weren’t always second-guessed--except by me.

Growing up near the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington when the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins.

Coming of age near the end of the Vietnam debacle. The year of my draft, 1972, saw a dramatic decrease in the number of draftees taken. The military intended to take up to number 95. My number was comfortably in triple digits.

Becky, my high school sweetheart, became my wife and mother to our four amazing kids. It can be considered a miracle of luck that she sticks with me fifty years later. 

A business career that put me in a leadership position with my company and my chosen industry with some amazing mentors.

Looking back, bad luck was never far away and raised its ugly head many times. But it didn’t kill me, try as it might.

On deadline day, as I wrap up this piece of work (take those three words as you wish), I need to get out and move snow. We’ve had near a foot of the white stuff in the last 24 hours and our plow is disabled. Bad luck for me.

But well before sunrise my neighbor arrived, plow in gear, and cleared our driveway.

As Betty would say, “I’m so lucky!”