Luck Schmuck by Deb Jenny

I honestly couldn’t think of what to write about with the theme of Lucky or Not. My dog Lucky? Nah. I didn’t have a dog named Lucky. Lucky Charms? The marshmallows taste great, but the cereal part? Not so much. I used to eviscerate all marshmallows from the box, which left my husband and kids very displeased with me, stuck as they were with those little oaty niblets that taste like horse food. Finally I realized that Lucky Charms weren’t so lucky for me, what with the added pounds from eating all of those marshmallows, so I stopped buying the cereal altogether. Unlucky for the folks at Lucky Charms, as that curtailed sales significantly, no doubt.

As I’m writing this on Saint Patrick’s Day, with the luck of the Irish and all, I will tell you a bit of good luck we had on St. Paddy’s Day—our 1st daughter was born on that day. It’s always fun to have a birthday on a holiday—except maybe Christmas or New Year’s Day, which is sort of anticlimactic—so we were happy to have an added reason to celebrate the day each year. Though that did put the kebosh on partying and green beer and Erin Go Bragh and all of that stuff–you can’t quite slip out on the baby’s birthday to swill green beer with your friends, now, can you? So in that regard her birthday did put a little crimp in the St. Paddy’s Day lifestyle. But we weren’t exactly wild revelers at that point in our lives anyhow, so it was a sacrifice we gladly undertook.

Okay, so we’ll talk about luck. Or not. Some folks have all the luck. And some folks make their luck. Other people have really rotten luck, and for them I always feel so awful. We knew this family growing up, they had a passel of kids and I swear every last one of them had some horrific accident that had to have taken ten years off their mother. It’s a wonder she didn’t die when she was 35 at the rate they were falling. Seven kids, deduct ten years per kid, assume her life span would be 80, taking out my calculator here, doing the math. Shoot, that would mean she’d have been dead by the time she was 10, given all that stress. I guess that math doesn’t exactly work.

Now, was that bad luck, all of the accidents in their home? Or was that house so full of children that no one exactly minded the fort, lending itself out to accidents happening? Who knows? I wasn’t there first-hand to experience it. But I did always feel so sorry for them—the boy who caught a dart in the eye, his brother who got electrocuted sailing, the sister who wrapped her car around a tree after driving 10 hours to their vacation home, only 100 feet from the driveway. Those were just a few of the many awful things that befell that family. I’d have to say there was a lot of bad luck working against them.

A lot of times folks attribute luckiness to people who have actually worked hard for it. I saw a fabulous movie this weekend (Miss Pettigrew—you have to go see it!) starring Amy Adams. It seems as if Amy Adams is cropping up everywhere these days. How lucky is she? Poof, she lands in a Disney movie (Enchanted), and now she’s got it made. But a quick look into her bio shows that she has paid her penance in the acting world. Dinner theater, local dance productions, bit parts in all sorts of shows, successful and otherwise. She even had the requisite gig at Hooters. She’s no flash in the pan. She’s only now getting recognized for her talents (not the least of which is her ability to manipulate subtle facial gestures to convey such meaning!).

I think this happens a lot—people work so very hard to achieve their goals, but others only see the end-result. And dismiss it as luck. But in reality, most people who set goals don’t come out the other end unscathed. To achieve these goals requires sacrifices and hard work.

And while the reward ultimately comes in the pay-off, I think to some degree the reward is in the journey—every step it takes along that bumpy road to success.

A lot of writers experience this. The ups and downs of this business are legendary. One minute you think things are finally going the right way, but then something unexpected happens to throw a wrench in the plans. It can be alternately demoralizing and energizing, depending on the moment. But one thing is for sure, while luck may play some role in it, working hard for it ensures that we appreciate whatever comes our way all the more. And maybe that hard work helps give Lady Luck a little boost in our favor every now and then.

Who knows? But while I’m working on making it tempting for luck to help out, I will be sure to not resort to stress-eating Lucky Charms any more, because they won’t bring you any luck. All they’ll bring you is a bigger gut.

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20 thoughts on “Luck Schmuck by Deb Jenny

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  3. wasn’t it thomas edison who said that luck was when preparation met timing? very thought provoking post, deb jenny. i think amy adams might have been in “rat race,” that film where the characters race to las vegas, the ultimate american shrine to “luck”. here’s hoping that this spring proves to be a lucky season for all. therese

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  5. I totally agree. Even with the Lucky Charms review. I do get a little irritated at people who flippantly state, “you are so lucky” when years and years of careful planning and decisions went into something. But I am all for luck. Yeah for luck.

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  7. Yay! I love this about the importance of making your own luck. I think many people who are seen as lucky in reality are really the people who seize opportunities. They fail more often too- but they often win big. I’m also counting myself lucky because never in my life have I eaten Lucky Charms. not once.

  8. Eileen, I am so impressed you’ve avoided Lucky Charms your whole life. Just think of all of those empty calories you’ve been spared! I think you’re so right–those who strive do fail more often, because they’re taking more chances. But also they step up their chances of winning big.
    Wendy, I love that line–it’s so true! and I checked out your field trip experience–I love that you were down in the goldmine just like Scooby Doo! I always find it so fascinating the field trip opportunities for kids all around the world. Once in Italy we were touring Pompeii and there were a bunch of schoolchildren there, taking for granted the magnificent resource right in their backyards. They could’ve cared less that they were touring such fascinating ancient ruins, while we’d spent a fortune and traveled forever to be there (that said, my daughter was bored out of her mind and far more interested in the cute Italian teens!). Meanwhile, in our own backyard our kids are the same way–totally ho-hum about it all.

  9. Amen Sister! As Bette Davis said, “Hang on, its going to be a bumpy ride!”

    Miss Pettigrew has not hit our theaters yet, can you believe it! We West Coasters are always the last on the list I think.

    Debbie Macomber has a speech entitled “How I made a million dollars after only twenty years of hard work.” LOL

  10. Hey Jenny, great post. I’m filling in for Deb Danielle today, as she’s un-lucky and has a migraine. The next three sentences, therefore, should contain something witty and erudite, but as I’m busy getting ice packs and special coffees for Dani, and making sure that she doesn’t spill the coffee as she tries to drink it, I’ll have to just say that it is a great post, and it made me think I need to work harder. Gotta go now; I’ve really been thrown off my game with this migraine thing, as I am way behind my duties of pouring dust on books, filling the cars with garbage, and generally just being oppressive.

    Michael

  11. Great, great post Jenny!! I’m thinking of a scene from a movie in which a character says to the other, “Good luck!” And the other character replies, “I make my own luck.” And of course I can’t remember the movie for the life of me…anyway, I am also now inspired to work harder. So thanks for lighting a fire under me!

    And I love Wendy’s line and Debbie Macomber’s speech title!!! So, so true.

    Also, Michael cracked me up with his “filling the cars with garbage” task.

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  13. I feel so honored to have the Oppressor stop by to post! Even if he *is* pounding Danielle’s head with a mallet to make it hurt so badly. Bad Oppressor!
    Yes I love that line from Debbie Macomber. Jess you just have to ask Lisa and she’ll tell you precisely what film it’s from ;-). Probably while tying a maraschino cherry stem with her tongue!

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