Luck is a much debated phenomenon, with the pragmatic insisting that one makes one’s own. It certainly helps to be proactive and opportunities do seem to fall our way by being in the right place at the right time and with the right attitude but even so …
I suspect that there is such a thing as luck – chronic luck, I mean – good and bad. Maybe you don’t class it as luck but I was forced, recently, to tell the story of my last few years to an impartial observer [apart from his own inbuilt prejudices] and I have to admit, it sounded like a string of excuses, a series of subsequent little disasters which just happened to come about due to a conjunction of circumstances.
It’s the old story – one could have prevented some of them with better planning but who thinks of remote possibilities occurring in the scheme of things? Who imagines for a minute seven or eight of these in a row, in some sort of cascade effect?
I’d like a pound for the number of times someone close to me has said that there is the remote possibility of something going wrong but the odds are against it but I knew, deep down and sure enough, it got complicated.
This dental work. That very day, my mate said that so often, something which could be dire turns out to be better than expected. I said nothing and then discovered it was much worse than anyone could have imagined. Only the x-ray I have at home shows the truth of this. If I speak of it, it sounds as if I’m imagining dire consequences so I usually say nothing.
Sailors are known for their superstition but how often is superstition based on things observed and interpreted in the light of other knowledge, even racial memory?
The Mary Celeste, the ghost ship, was certainly an unlucky ship:
Her first skipper, a Scot named Robert McLellan, fell ill and died. Then John Nutting Parker assumed command and skippered the Amazon’s maiden voyage, but she ran into a fishing weir off Maine, received a large gash in her hull and had to go to the shipyards for repair. While she was there a fire broke out amidships, bringing Captain Parker’s command to an end.
Amazon’s first Atlantic crossing went without mishap until she entered the Straits of Dover and collided with a brig. The brig sank, Amazon again went for repairs, and her third skipper went to seek another command.
Following the necessary repairs and the appointment of a new captain, Amazon returned to America, and she ran aground off Cow Bay, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
She was pulled off the rocks and repaired, but appears to have passed from one owner to another, several of whom seem to have gone bankrupt and none of whom derived any good from their contact with the ship. She eventually passed into the hands of J.H. Winchester and Co., a consortium of New York shipowners.
By this time the Amazon had been enlarged, flew the Stars and Stripes and was named Mary Celeste. According to testimony just prior to this trip, she had been purchased at a salvage auction in New York for $2,600 and rebuilt for $14,000. Her rebuilt condition was confirmed by the crew of the Dei Gratia later when they said, “Her hull appeared to be nearly new.”
So you see, like a cancer which has been cut out but then seemingly reappears from nowhere, certain things do seem to reside and reappear and sailors are willing to accept that some fates are best not tempted – the albatross springs to mind and the stormy petrel, for example.
It can cut both ways – there’s good luck too. Some things I touch always seem to turn to gold and anyone who stays close to me always stays safe from harm – nothing I do personally, it just happens that way. There’s a weird one, useless to any but me – wherever I drive, parking spaces always appear. Against that, if I walk under a series of street lights on lampposts, they can sometimes go out as I pass below them, only to come on again as I move away. This is no bull – it happens.
Opportunities appear from nowhere and though that happens to all of us, in my case, it’s useful for finding blogposts to write on. With my mate up the road, the interaction does it. Neither has anything particularly in mind at the start but over a cup of tea, this leads to that in the conversation and voila – there are four complete blogposts . He’s still awaiting the cheque, which I assure him is in the mail.
There’s a theory that things happen to people who can imagine things happening to them and the blunt, obtuse pragmatist in his narrow world never has anything happen to him out of the ordinary. Those who believe in the paranormal happen to find paranormal activity and those who pooh-pooh it do not. Ever.
Sheer bloody experience has taught me to use 360 degree peripheral vision and if I see a conjunction of circumstances which could possibly combine to create an outcome, usually dire, then I assume now that it will happen and if it doesn’t, it’s a bonus.
Next year, certain things are due to be attended to, all around the same time, which should see me gone – the odds are that this will happen and they will certainly end this blog. The optimist will say nah, you’re imagining things. We’ll see – the cards might fall the other way.
Luck – who knows? I certainly don’t and all I can do is form hypotheses based on what I’ve observed so far. That’s all any of us can do. That and pray.