“Are you Irish?” a friend asked me about a week ago when we were talking about St. Patrick’s Day. “Yes,” I answered automatically. And then my brain caught up with my mouth. “Uh, no, I guess I’m not Irish. Nope, not Irish at all,” I had to admit. But it really took me a minute to figure that out.
The truth is, I feel Irish. I mean, I ought to be Irish. My husband is Irish on three sides which makes our children Irish. So, in a way doesn’t that also make me Irish? When St. John and I got married, we went to Ireland on our honeymoon, visited dear old family friends who are Irish-Irish (as in LIVE in Ireland). My son is named for my mother’s dearly departed best friend – who was born and raised, and is now buried, in Ireland. And as if that weren’t enough, St. John and I met – at our soon-to-be-famous Peace Corps interview – on St. Patrick’s Day! Now if all of that don’t make me Irish, what does?
How about this: I’m really lucky. Isn’t that what Luck O’ The Irish is all about? I don’t know if the Irish are particularly lucky (those who had to endure the potato famine and the “Troubles” may not feel so lucky), but that’s the Irish stereotype. Or maybe that just refers to leprechauns. (But I might just be short enough – and Irish enough – to pass myself off as a leprechaun.)
We’ve been blogging all week about luck. Others have said, and I certainly agree, that whether your luck is good or bad, may have less to do with what actually happens to you and more to do with how you look at it. I have certainly had my share of bad situations in my life – being molested as a teenager, getting malaria, having to be medically evacuated from Ecuador because I thought I was going crazy, being held hostage at gunpoint in my own home – are easily among those things that most people would consider bad. And yet, as I wrote in an earlier version of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA, “I have always considered myself a lucky person. And in the luckiest moment of my life, I met John.” (As I recall, that part didn’t make it into the final version of the book. But so much other good stuff did, that you won’t miss it. I promise!)
There was a time when I wondered how could I not only write that – but truly feel that – in light of what I know I’ve been through. But I do consider myself lucky. Sure I could think I’m lucky simply because I survived all of that. But I think I’m lucky because some of the worst stuff that happened to me gave me the most valuable and useful lessons. And now I get to write about it, talk about it and use it in my life. How lucky is that?
So what about you? Somehow, I don’t think I’m alone in this. What’s your bad luck story that ended up being good?
Cead mille failte!