In his famous “Ringworld” novels, science fiction writer Larry Niven described a culture in which people were bred for a specific attribute. They were breeding for luck instead of for appearance or some other desired effect.
In the story, scientists chose some lucky people who had won a lottery or who benefited from some other form of good luck.
These men and women were paired off in the hope of creating a race of people who were genetically lucky. That takes the expression, “born lucky” to a new extreme.
It has been years since I read the book, so I don’t remember how it turned out. Just remember that half the phrase “science fiction” is “fiction.”
• I have never won a lottery, likely because I have only bought one ticket in my entire life.
Anyway, to what does a lottery winner attribute her “good luck?” If someone has something good happen to them, they likely will try to argue they deserved it. But it wasn’t luck.
Let’s go with that for the moment. What’s left is good things happening to someone with no apparent deservedness. That’s luck.
• Lots of good things have happened to me over the years — or bad things that could have happened, didn’t.
I was stricken with polio as a child but survived to be drafted into the Army.
Back then, during the Vietnam war, men were using all kinds of tactics to try to avoid being drafted. Some worked; most didn’t.
To those people I was unlucky to be drafted. On the other hand, I was healthy enough to serve my country, thanks to my good luck.
Even in the Army I was lucky. Instead of putting me in the infantry with a rifle, they put me in the signal corps with a camera. Instead of being sent into the thick of the fighting in Vietnam, I was assigned 13 months in South Korea
• I can hardly believe my good luck to have been alive when men first landed on the moon. For millions of years, our ancestors have been awe-struck by the sight of the moon and wished they could go there and find out what it’s all about.
• Luck happens.
• Luck isn’t to be confused with thankfulness. Luck is the cause; thankfulness is a result. Or should be.
• Another reason I have had good luck is because I don’t push my luck. Buying lottery tickets seems to me to be trying to force luck. It is trying to get luck to pay a dividend that one didn’t do anything to deserve.
• Then there are those people who see bad luck as an opportunity to turn it into something positive.
Tom Robbins in his novel “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,” wrote that “Sissy Hankshaw never has any bad luck because nothing seems bad luck to her. She’s never been disgraced because there is nothing which she’d acknowledge a disgrace.”
• Anyway, remember to give thanks tomorrow for all the good things that have happened to you, whether it was luck or something you deserved.
And good luck.
Mike Hall can be reached at email@example.com.