A number of years ago, when we were both in our early 20's, one of my best friends suffered a string of terrible losses. A grandparent, his brother, a dear childhood friend - they all died within a relatively short period of time. At the time, I had a thought that has come back to haunt me: I felt safe. It seemed unthinkable that the metaphysical powers that be would take all of these people away from my friend and then take me, too. Seemed pretty clear that I was off-limits to the grim reaper for a while.
Then, not too many years later, my friend's father died in a freak car accident. I'd previously shared my thought about feeling safe with my friend's wife, and she cursed me - with love in her heart - when her father-in-law died. She had taken my thought and words to heart and gotten comfort from them, comfort that proved to be false.
Recently, other close friends have endured a similarly cruel string of luck. Job loss on top of existing financial challenges. Divorce and domestic violence among their siblings. Health problems for them and their kids. Of course, all of this has challenged their marriage immensely, and has come on top of all of the regular shit that can otherwise so easily derail any of us - a broken washing machine, two broken cars, just being broke.
At this point, we are standing slack-jawed with these friends. Waiting for the 47th shoe to drop. Its been almost unbelievable.
Sometimes when I am in the solitude of my own mind, I follow a ridiculous path and think about the unfairness of me not being as wealthy or famous as, say, Brad Pitt. I mean it has to happen to SOMEONE, right? Why not me? What usually helps me abandon this trail of trivial thinking is when I realize that there is the same unfairness in me not being the one in a million who is in a plane crash, or is involved in some newsworthy violent crime or unfortunate event. Those people are like lottery winners, insofar as they were somehow selected for a chance event. This is frequently not a good thing.
My conclusion: luck, as a concept, is a mind-fuck. Thinking of the big picture, the possible opportunities for good and bad luck, I'm not sure I want to be lucky.
I'm reminded of a shocking thought I had after my son was born. For the first time in my life "average" and "normal" were my goals. I just wanted my son to be fine and OK, to have his path be worn and smooth.
Of course neither of my kids is normal or average, nor am I, nor is a worn and smooth path really my goal or an option. But I've learned to see the appeal of unremarkable, to want the stability that comes from not winning or losing anything. To feel safe.