reading series 3.2

The month of March is almost over … Both St. Patrick’s Day and the Vernal Equinox have come and gone. Last week, I was thinking a lot about the idea of “luck”, which made me think more and more about Ireland, the land of leprechauns and four-leaf clovers, a country rich in beautiful myths, legends, and folklore, music, literature and art. Ireland is also a country with deep religious and political beliefs, a long history of conflict, working class poverty, and war.

Here in America, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated mostly by people spilling into bars throughout the day and night, dulling the senses with alcohol, and escaping from reality into drunken reverie. In some ways, it seems that many people find the idea of “the luck of the Irish” somewhat ironic, as past and present intermingle in Ireland’s wild, deep beauties and her devastating realities.

Meditating on the idea of “luck”, I found myself falling into a bit of a depression. Luck seems like an elusive concept to me. I looked up the definition of luck in my dictionary:

Luck (noun)
1. The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; fortunate
2. Good fortune or prosperity
3. One’s personal fate or lot
4. To gain success or something desirable by chance

The idea of chance here is giving me pause. I believe in hard work. I believe in being open to different opportunities. And I guess that is where the idea of luck and chance come in – what comes back to you.

The strongest analogy I can draw here is in trying to publish my writing. Publishing is, essentially, based on chance. However, I feel that it the writer’s job to find compatible places for his or her work. This is no easy task, especially considering the subjectivity of readers and the sheer number of publication options available.

Sometimes I find a place that I think will be compatible, but my work is not accepted. Other times, it is. I never considered this luck. I think of it more as casting a net, taking a chance, and seeing what comes back to me. After I send something into the world, it is out of my control, it is no longer mine. And whether it is rejected or accepted, the process is always a result of hard work and effort. Sometimes I feel that the rejections are there to teach me as much as the acceptances.

Where does luck come in? I don’t know. I think about Edgar Allan Poe when I think about writers and luck. And then it all flies out the window.

I think about the concept of following one’s path, trying to find the signs and signals that are pointing the way to a person’s destiny. Here, it may be considered lucky to see the signs. But I feel like it is more a conscious willingness to open oneself up to this kind of awareness.

One of the definitions of “Luck” focuses on the idea of fate, that things in our lives are meant to happen. It’s a strange thing to believe in fate, but I do. I believe that I am here to fulfill something that I don’t even really understand. I can’t question or analyze it, because this idea exists in another language, one that is more primal and spiritual than the written and verbal language we use to communicate with one another. I follow what I feel is right for me; I follow what stirs my passions, and I do this in a reflexive, almost instinctual way.

This can be difficult, especially living in a society that stresses the accepted, normal path of existence in the world: Birth, School, Work, Death. From the time we enter the education system, we are taught a certain way of living in society. Follow the rules. Don’t question authority. Don’t rock the boat.

We are taught that dreams are unreliable, bits of fantasy that belong in our subconscious state. We tell children to “grow up”, to leave their dreams behind and enter the adult world. We fall into line, into our societal system of rules and norms, and forget about the idea of a personal destiny, our gifts and talents. We forget that there is so much more to LIFE.

I have to confess, I sometimes wish that I had a Birth, School, Work, Death mentality. The way I think and feel and live my life puts me a little outside of things. And it is a terrible feeling sometimes to feel that you are not quite part of the world. I can’t count how many times people have asked where I am from, as if I come from another state, another country, another world.

Once, I was at a bar and a man reached out and grabbed my arm after I had ordered a drink. “What are you doing down here?” he said in a very serious, almost demanding voice, “you belong with the stars.” It would have been funny if he was using a pick-up line on me, but he wasn’t. He was very drunk. I tried to be polite, nonchalant. I smiled at him. He stared at me as if my presence unnerved him, then turned back to his conversation.

I don’t know how else to live my life. I think part of my depression recently was just thinking … well, I wish I was lucky! I wish I thought that something as simple as luck would push me into a financially stable place. I wish that a touch of luck would lead to more publications, collections of books, a full-time university teaching job! And here I am, not sure if any of those things will ever happen for me.

Sometimes I feel like I am grappling forward with only the next step alight ahead of me. Sometimes I feel tested. Today, I want to share a blog post I had written about The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo. Sometimes I feel like I need to revisit these ideas, to remember.

Click here to read my blog post about The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

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