(From Debra: Help us welcome one of our terrific new authors! His middle-grade fantasy HOW TO SLAY A DRAGON was a January release—a very funny book and a quest our hero’s school didn’t cover in 7th grade.)
Thanks for inviting me to ride along. It’s not often I get to be in the company of so many talented ladies, but I have to say, one look around the car and I’m wondering if I’m too masculine to ride with this group.
Hang on. I can’t hear over my wife’s laughing.
Okay, where were we? Oh, yeah. Last month Keri Ford brought along her friends Stephanie and Parker, which started me thinking. Maybe I should invite my friends Greg and Lucky. Probably not a good idea. First off, this car is already crazy crowded. But more importantly, Lucky has himself so convinced he’s immune from harm that he’d probably be standing on the hood asking you to play chicken with the other cars. Greg’s a lot more reasonable, but the way his life has been going, I don’t think any of us want to be in a car with him.
Now, some of you may know me, and I know what you’re thinking. I’m not sure I want to be in a car with you either, Bill.
I should explain. Throughout my life, for no reason I can explain, people have tended to believe that I have unusually poor luck. Maybe it’s the little things, like the way traffic lights automatically turn red as I approach. (My wife actually refuses to follow me in a car. Life is just too short.) Or maybe it’s the bigger things, like the way I ended a quarter century of investing in real estate, selling even my own home, just before the housing market soared. Or how years later the real estate market teetered for a moment as I pulled out my pen, and then came crashing down as I scratched my signature across the loan papers for my new home. It’s no coincidence that my friends ask my stock advice. They need to know what I’m doing so they can do the exact opposite.
Okay, don’t throw me out of the car for being a pessimist. You’re thinking everybody has both good and bad luck, and if I just focused on the positives I would find that my luck was no different from anyone else’s. Well, if you’ve ever met Lucky, you should realize I already know that. In fact, I have pointed out this simple fact to people all my life, to which they usually say, “No dude, you’re just really unlucky.”
I get their point. A boy can believe, for instance, that after being struck by lightning twice in one day, he was lucky he wasn’t struck three times, and he might even laugh off the fourth and fifth time as well. But by the sixth or seventh jolt, he’s going to have to start wondering if Fate really is out to get him. Such has been the pattern of my life.
Nevertheless, I remain cheerful. Why? Possibly because I don’t have a clue. But more likely it’s because, much the way Lucky can make up reasons to defend his luck after every ordeal, I believe we can make up “rules” that greatly improve our experience of life. Sure, they’re just made up, but who’s to say they aren’t true. Here’s one particularly helpful delusion I’ve made up for myself:
I have decided we are all allotted the same amount of good and bad luck the day we are born. While most people foolishly waste away their good luck on a daily basis, I have been saving mine up for years, waiting for just the right moment to cash it in. My entire life has been one long bout of “the lean years,” setting myself up for that one miraculous day when I will beat some one-in-a-billion odds.
Admittedly, a part of me believes that if I ever do beat those type of odds, it will be the day I actually do get struck by lightning seven times, but maybe, just maybe I’ll beat the odds in a more favorable way. The thousands of truly talented authors who struggle each year to see their books published may say I’ve already beaten those odds. They’ve got a point. And how could I have ever created a hapless Greg Hart without having my own lifetime of bad experiences to draw from?
I guess you could say I was just lucky that way.
Thanks for the lift!
FROM DEBRA: So, how about you? What defines luck? Do you have it? Have you used yours up?